The Oxford Laboratory was established in 1960 by the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries for the primary purpose of investigating oyster diseases that struck Chesapeake and Delaware Bays in the late 1950s. It became the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in 1987, through an agreement between Maryland DNR and the NOAA National Ocean Service to share the facility and to cooperate in research. The National Marine Fisheries Service, Chesapeake Bay Office is also a partner. Scientists at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory investigate the relationship of changes in land activities to the Chesapeake Bay and the health of fish, shellfish and other aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic Coast. They also collaborate with scientists nationally and internationally to improve understanding of aquatic animal health and develop management strategies to prevent and mitigate diseases.
The Cooperative Oxford Lab supports the only state program which evaluates shellfish health in support of bay-wide fisheries and aquaculture. Finfish health investigations are directed through the Lab and staff also participate in the National Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Network, investigating strandings of these rare and endangered animals in Maryland, and sharing information, samples and expertise with other institutions and coastal states. NOAA staff have developed techniques for classifying and mapping critical reef habitats in Chesapeake Bay have been developed recently at the Laboratory. These methods are now being applied in Maryland's oyster restoration efforts. The Fisheries Service GIS team is also headquartered at the COL.
The information provided on this site is primarily focused on Maryland's Department of Natural Resources' efforts. To learn more about the Federal efforts please click here.