A small cohort of oceanography cadets and faculty climbed aboard the R/V Questuary in the wee hours of a chilly October morning. 

The crew spent their day sampling near the Bay Bridge, Alameda and points south in an effort to understand and characterize a large harmful algal bloom that occurred in San Francisco Bay this summer and early fall.  The bloom dissipated by mid-September but killed thousands of fish, forcing shoreline cleanups, spreading unpleasant odor, and prompting scientists to further investigate the extent of the ecological damage.  

“We received samples for our analysis from research collaborators during the bloom event and this cruise was a chance to characterize conditions absent of the bloom to compare with the bloom itself,” said Dr. Alexander Parker, professor and program coordinator for Cal Maritime’s oceanography program.  

Oceanography is Cal Maritime’s newest major where cadets gain a theoretical background and practical skills in oceanography and are challenged to apply foundational knowledge using the scientific method through hands-on directed research experiences.  

Cadets also have the opportunity to study abroad and gain a global perspective of ocean literacy and stewardship.  

This oceanography cruise aboard the R/V Questuary vessel is just one of many resources that Cal Maritime’s Golden Bear Research Center (GBRC) has made possible. Particularly, the GBRC has partnered with San Francisco State University’s Estuary and Ocean Science Center (EOS) to take over operation of the R/V Questuary.  

Because of this partnership, the Questuary will now serve as a platform for Cal Maritime’s oceanography program as well as other Cal State University scientists and educators, and other external agencies, and will be one of the only active research vessels working in the San Francisco Estuary. 



Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.