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Gulf Ecology Division


aerial view of island

The Gulf Ecology Division is located on Sabine Island in Santa Rosa Sound, 8 miles southeast of Pensacola, Florida. It is a manmade island of 16.5 acres, formed from ballast brought by sailing ships during the late 1800's.

•  History of Sabine Island

Research facilities include:

administration building
The GED Administration Building (Building 65) was completed early in 2002 to provide office space for the Office of the Director and Program Operations Staff, a visitor reception center, a modern lunch room, one large, 30 ft. x 50 ft (or sub-divided into two smaller rooms) conference room, two 10 ft. x 20 ft. conference rooms, and a computer training room. Because of location and function, the new building serves as an important hub for many research and administrative activities for GED staff.

By design, the cascading effect of moving personnel into this new facility on making quality office space available to technical staff allowed GED to follow a master plan for the facility and remove four unsightly, high energy consuming, and high maintenance temporary buildings from the facility. Also by design, the new facility is very energy efficient, using green lighting, solar panel for domestic heating water, sky lighting, and modern insulating materials plus energy and maintenance saving on older, eliminated buildings, the cost of construction should be returned in the foreseeable future. In addition to function and cost savings, the new building adds to the facility by maintaining the exterior architecture of the late 1800s and by facilitating removal of unsightly buildings.

computational science laboratory
Computational Science Laboratory.  The Gulf Ecology Division's newest building (6500 ft²) was completed in 2008. It houses offices and workspaces, a geospatial analysis and modeling laboratory, and a 300 ft² conference room which can be divided into two small meeting rooms. The building also supplies space for the Division's information technology support contractors, computer network equipment, and U. S. Geological Survey staff who provide mapping and spatial analysis support under an interagency agreement. The building was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification by the Green Building Certification Institute for its many energy-saving and environmentally friendly features.
Ecotoxicoloty laboratory
The Ecotoxicology & Chemistry Laboratory is a 12,500 ft² facility that includes 5000 ft² of wet laboratory space, 2500 ft² of analytical chemistry space, 2500 ft² for storage and non-office work space, 1250 ft² of office space, and 1250 ft² for preparatory laboratories and a fully equipped workshop and glass shop.

The Coral Culture Facility offers scientists the unique capability of assessing multiple stressor effects on coral and their symbiotic algae in a controlled laboratory environment. Scientists here have cultured over 10 species of reef building corals and 28 coral algae cultures representing the major groups in the world's corals. Coral culturing allows for the maintenance of genetically identical coral clones and symbiotic algae species for repeated experiments over time. Researchers can adapt laboratory test systems to evaluate dose-response relationships for other stressors including contaminants and nutrients.

diagram of Seawater Delivery System
Seawater Delivery System. The Gulf Ecology Division conducts research in the estuarine environment. The salinity of available water ranges from the high salinity of the Gulf of Mexico, a few hundred yards south, to the brackish and fresh water conditions of the bays and rivers to the north. Water for experimentation is siphoned directly from the intercoastal waterway at the north shore of the island and depending upon the effects of tide, wind and rain can be unacceptably high or low in salt content for experimental purposes. For these reasons, a "seawater delivery system" has been implemented to insure a supply of water at controlled salinity levels.
library building

The Gulf Ecology Division's technical library. is a Creole style cottage built in the early 1900s. The building originally served as the physician's residence when the Pensacola Quarantine Station occupied the island from 1906 to 1925. The facility was expanded in 1979 by enclosing a side porch and again in 1992 by adding a room to the back. Enclosed floor space now measures approximately 1,450 square feet.

   The GED Technical Library supports the research and administrative functions of the laboratory by providing a wide range of information services and by maintaining an extensive resource collection. Read more...

Marine Environmental Assessment Facility
The Marine Environmental Assessment Laboratory (8,500 ft2) is divided into five separate laboratory spaces including the Nutrient Laboratory and two general purpose laboratories.
Marine Ecology Facility
The Marine Ecology Laboratory (8500 sq.ft) houses the majority of GED's microbial and molecular ecology research and GED's warehouse. The. building has 23 rooms that provide laboratory research space and research support areas such as a sterile transfer room, a radio isotope room, tissue culture and laser confocal microscope room, sterilization rooms, microscope rooms, and numerous walk-in cold rooms and growth chambers. Read more...
Research vessel
Research Vessels. A fleet of small research vessels extends the Gulf Ecology Division's laboratories into coastal waterways, bays, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. The laboratory's locations, central to the northern Gulf of Mexico, provides unique geographical advantages. Time-sensitive samples and live organisms can be returned to the laboratory from much of the Gulf coast within a day. Many types of field studies can be accomplished without extensive travel time and expenses.

Our research vessels range in size from 10'-27' and support a wide range of operations, from very shallow inshore waters to the open Gulf of Mexico. The larger vessels are fully equipped with navigation aids and hardware for deploying field gear and sampling equipment. The EPA's Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold is used by competitive request for research in open ocean waters. It has been used extensively by GED scientists in the hypoxic ("dead") zone off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas and in assessments of coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. The OSV Bold also supported a rapid assessment of Louisiana and Mississippi coastal waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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