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The ocean and UTokyo
A collection of research and educational activities related to the birthplace of all life

The year 2021 marks the start of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, a major campaign to advance the science of the ocean, which is the cradle of all life and sustains the life of organisms. on earth. This year, the University of Tokyo welcomed as its new president a scientist who has lived and worked with the ocean. From engineering, physics and biology to agriculture, law and economics, we present UTokyo’s ocean research and marine education activities illustrated with examples from various fields.

Major Japanese Waterfront Research and Education Centers
UTokyo Marine Laboratories

The presence of a center of activity close to the sea is of crucial importance for the continuation of marine research and education activities. The three laboratories of the University of Tokyo at Misaki, Hiratsuka and Hamamatsu have long served as sites to promote marine research at the University. We asked the scientists most familiar with the sites to present them to us.

Since 1886
“Learning about the life of marine fauna” in a laboratory in Misaki

Marine Biology Station, Graduate School of Sciences
By Manabu Yoshida
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Sciences

The Graduate School of Science Marine Biological Station (known as Misaki Marine Biological Station, or MMBS) was established in 1886, just ten years after the founding of the University of Tokyo, in the area of Misaki, at the southwestern tip of the Miura. Peninsula of Kanagawa Prefecture. The Miura Peninsula faces Sagami Bay, home to one of the richest animal diversities in the world in terms of quantity and number of species. At that time, biology was taxonomy. Observing a wide variety of marine life has contributed to understanding the classification system of living organisms, and in turn to understanding the process of animal evolution. Subsequently, the focus of laboratory research shifted from taxonomy to embryology, physiology, and molecular biology, but the MMBS consistently pursued research aimed at understanding animal evolution and diversity. based on our understanding of a wide variety of marine organisms. The MMBS serves as an important hub for the study of marine organisms, not only for research by its staff, but also as a common-use facility, providing experimental equipment and widely accepting visiting researchers. Observing a wide variety of marine organisms helps teach systematic taxonomy. To this end, MMBS accepts more than 20,000 off-Station users each year for research and teaching purposes, including university and high school students for hands-on training. In cooperation with Miura City, MMBS also carries out outreach activities, including nature observation lessons for the general public and pearl farming projects for primary school students. In 2020, the old main building (the Memorial Building) and the aquarium, symbols of MMBS for more than 80 years, were demolished due to their age and a new educational building was built to replace them. In addition to the state-of-the-art laboratories, the new building houses an exhibition hall, conference rooms, collaborative laboratories and a water tank room, paving the way for the open use of the Station. With the motto “Learning about life from marine wildlife”, MMBS will continue to pursue research and education activities on a diverse range of marine animals.

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Materials illustrating the history of MMBS can be found in the exhibit hall of the educational building.

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The Memorial Building and the Rinkai-maru (research boat) before the building’s demolition.

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From the inauguration ceremony of the educational building in August 2020

Since 1965
Offshore platform for ocean research

Hiratsuka Oceanographic Experiment Station, Ocean Alliance Collaborative Research Organization
By Changkyu Rheem
Professor, Institute of Industrial Sciences

The Hiratsuka Oceanographic Experiment Station consists of the Hiratsuka Offshore Experiment Tower (Hiratsuka Tower), which is a research facility for oceanographic observation located 1 km off the coast of Hiratsuka in the Sagami Bay with a depth of 20 m, and shore support facilities.

Built in 1965, the Hiratsuka Tower (then known as the Marine Observation Tower) is one of the few offshore platforms in Japan. The tower has played a key role in the collection of oceanographic data for over 55 years, mainly in the field of wave observation. It was transferred from the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention to the University of Tokyo in 2009 as a facility to advance new marine research. The Ocean Alliance Collaborative Research Organization initiated the Hiratsuka Offshore Experiment Tower program and operates the site. The organization effectively leverages the tower as a platform for ocean experiments and as a research and teaching center for equipment development and oceanographic observation. Inside the tower there is space to install observation equipment and to carry out observation work. It is also equipped with electrical and communication facilities. On land, there are facilities for the management and analysis of observational data, laboratories, conference rooms, etc., and a boat that operates between land and the tower.

Since its inception, Hiratsuka Tower has observed oceanographic phenomena (such as waves, water level, water temperature, and currents) and meteorological phenomena (such as wind, atmospheric pressure, temperature air, humidity and precipitation). The tower also used image data from live cameras and consolidated it into a database. In cooperation with Kanagawa Prefecture, observation data is broadcast in real time on the Internet (https://www.hiratsuka-tower.jp/). The data is used for the fishing industry, water recreation, weather analysis, marine accident analysis and coastal structure design. Operating costs are funded by contributions from users of facilities and data. Anyone can use the facilities and data as long as their activities are consistent with the purpose of creating the facility, and users are widely welcome.

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Hiratsuka Offshore Experiment Tower 1 km off Hiratsuka.
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Different types of equipment inside the tower.

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Wave observation radar installed on the tower.

Since 1936
Located by Lake Hamana

Fisheries Laboratory, School of Agronomic and Life Sciences
By Kiyoshi Kikuchi
Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences

The Fisheries Laboratory is a facility affiliated with the Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, located on the shores of Lake Hamana in Shizuoka Prefecture. For many years, the University of Tokyo had a coastal facility in Misaki-cho, Kanagawa Prefecture, but since the topography of the area was unsuitable for research on aquaculture and marine life in the Inside the Bay, two fishing labs were built in Aichi Prefecture around the time of the February 26 (1936) incident. In the midst of strong economic growth in Japan (from the 1950s to the 1970s), the two laboratories were moved to their present location and integrated. It is said that the laboratory was very popular at that time because it allowed experiments in breeding sea life, attracting many students from Tokyo. Apparently, this was a time when Japanese fisheries research, including that of the University of Tokyo, was at the forefront of the world.

Lake Hamana is located right next to the Fisheries Lab. Although it is called a lake, it is mostly filled with seawater. It is said to be the tenth largest lake in Japan in terms of size. The lake also serves as a ‘cradle’ for baby fish and crustaceans, and young fish often found offshore can be spotted here. The climate is mild (although the winds in winter are quite strong), and the region is spacious and pleasant.

The Fisheries Laboratory currently has three faculty members (Kiyoshi Kikuchi, Sho Hosoya and Shotaro Hirase) and we cooperate with each other in our research work. We share a common interest in the study of aquatic organisms and their analysis using genomic and genetic approaches. Three technical staff members are also responsible for assisting with student training, operating the research vessel, collecting, rearing and rearing marine organisms, and maintaining the facilities.

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Exterior view of the Otome-en laboratory in Bentenjima.
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The facility has more than 100 experimental breeding aquariums.
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View of Lake Hamana at sunset from the lab.
Distribution of specialties of marine researchers at UTokyo

20 Physical oceanography
8 Marine Biology
7 Fisheries oceanography, biological oceanography
6 Marine environmental engineering, marine ecology, ocean biogeochemistry
5 Marine Ecosystem Engineering, Underwater Platform Systems, Coastal Engineering
4 Ocean photonics, ocean geochemistry, marine geology
3 Chemical oceanography, ocean engineering, marine physiology, marine microbiology, marine microbial ecology, ocean dynamics, naval architecture and ocean engineering
2 Underwater Robotics, Marine Acoustic Systems Engineering, Marine Chemistry, Marine Renewable Energy, Marine Bioecology, Paleooceanography, Marine Environmental Studies
1 Coastal oceanography, marine seismology, marine seismic observation, maritime transport, reduction of marine greenhouse gases, policies for maritime industries, marine mammals, underwater information systems, measurement of solid earth at the bottom of the Ocean, Broadband Seismology of the Ocean Floor, Geology of the Ocean Floor, Ocean -Bottom Electromagnetism, Sea Ice, Sea Surface Observation, Sea Surface Disasters, Marine Energy, Ocean Genomics, Ocean Systems Engineering, Ocean Mantle Petrology, Marine Science, Oceanography, Oceanographic Seismology, Ocean Space Utilization, Ocean Structure Dynamics, Marine Bacteriology, Ocean Information, Marine Botany, Ocean Policy, Marine Life Geoscience , marine geophysics, ocean floor geophysics, ocean civil engineering, ocean materials recycling climatology, marine conservation policy, elucidation n and Technological Application of Mechanisms of Ocean Currents/Waves, Maritime Law, High Seas Engineering, Deep Sea Biology, Deep Sea Turbulent Mixing, Underwater Sensor Engineering, Compr Comprehensive Seabed Observation Engineering, Microbial Oceanography , physical oceanography, molecular marine biology
The above is a list of specialty areas of researchers who are members of the Ocean Alliance Collaborative Research Organization at the University of Tokyo. The list is limited to those who include the Chinese character “海” (meaning “sea”, “ocean”, “water” or “coast”) in the name of their university major. Although it is difficult to draw a complete picture of the marine studies carried out at UTokyo, this list testifies to the diversity of these activities.