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Orca (#) (-), 106-foot former Coast Guard icebreaker converted into a research vessel by the J. W. Sefton Foundation for “the marine study of bays and lagoons.” As a naval vessel she carried 28 officers and crew, but as a research ship she carried a crew of 14. Orca had her shake-down cruise in August of 1948 from San Diego to the Channel Islands. Phil Orr joined her first research party. Alden H. Miller, ornithologist with the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, California and John R. Hendrickson visited Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa islands as members of the staff aboard the research ship Orca in March of 1950. Orca expedition to the Sea of Cortez was in 1953.

  • Isla Jeronimo (1953)

In the News~

[SBMNH Leaflet Fall 1948]: “Scientists became sailors, swabbing decks, launching boats, repairing gear, operating radio and fathometer. A professional skipper navigates the ship and a professional engineer sees that the motors run. There are no deck chairs, shuffle board, bar, or women. The Orca is not a yacht, but a work boat... Eight hour days were unknown aboard the Orca. When night came, the laboratory was ablaze — scientists putting plants in presses, cleaning bones, or filling jars with specimens. Others dropped powerful lights over the side and scooped up squid, crabs, and small fishes, attracted to the light like moths to a flame. Still others, with flashlight and water lass, floated in skiffs along the shore, peering into the crystal clear depths where lobsters with phosphorescent eyes stared up from the fairyland of underwater gardens and brilliant red fish darted out from swaying kelp.” [SBMNH Leaflet Spring 1949].