George & Nettie
MacGinitie:
Early Marine Biologists
of the
California Estuaries and Wetlands
particularly
Newport Bay, Elkhorn Slough, and Mugu Lagoon



Blind Goby Field Workers at La Jolla in 1930s



Edited, Compiled and Written By
Robert Jan 'Roy' van de Hoek
Ballona Slough Foundation
P.O. Box 5332
Playa del Rey, California 90296


The MacGinities are interconnected to Marine Biology and the estuaries of California, particularly Elkhorn Slough and Newport Bay. These web pages were created and compiled to guide the curious individual into the realm of "knowledge is power" and "breaking through." Another good phrase could be: "In the elders there is wisdom." Those quotes exempify the MacGinities. They were believers in that there is something to be said for just plain education, knowledge, and curiosity to know about animals in their natural landscapes from the perspective of WILD NATURE.

Hopefully, these web pages will help educate us all about the inter-relationships of the land and the sea, through the eyes of these two gifted marine naturalists of an earlier era. They may have done their field work in the estuaries and coastal wetlands of California from the 1920s through the 1960s, but their field work is even more relevant today, not just as good solid biological natural history, but for its use as a guide to accomplish genuine restoration and recovery of wetlands. Additionally, the importance of the MacGinitie's work is important in the history of marine biology. For example, environmental history can be ascertained from the MacGinities via the fascinating comments in successive editions of Ed Ricketts' Between Pacific Tides.

In the first edition (1939), Edward "Doc" Ricketts acknowledged George MacGinitie in the preface (page vi) as follows: "G.E. MacGinitie, Director of the Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology, has been unfailingly co-operative." He also complimented George MacGinitie for his Stanford University research at Elkhorn Slough: "Indispensible to the Monterey Bay worker, but unfortunately not generally available. Published, September 1935, as "Ecological aspects of a California marine estuary," American Midland Naturalist, 16: 629-769. Received too late for adequate inclusion here; 1935c."

In the second edition (1948), Ed Ricketts complimented George MacGinitie for his new book:
"... we unhesitatingly rate this, sight unseen, as essential for all marine biological workers. For information on this forthcoming volume we are grateful to Mr. MacGinitie, Director of the Marine Station of the California Institute of Technology."

In the third edition (1952), Joel Hedgpeth complimented the MacGinities for their important marine biology book:
"This is essentially the record of the MacGinitie's work at Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory on Newport Bay and along the shores of southern California. Full of original observations on the behavior and habits of seashore animals, no student of the marine life of the Pacific coast can get along without it."

In the fourth edition (1968,page 543), Joel Hedgpeth compliments the MacGinities for their book, Natural History of Marine Animals, via elaboration of Ed Ricketts' statement as follows:
"For many years the MacGinities inhabited the laboratory at Corona del Mar, domesticating all sorts of unlikely marine invertebrates in the aquaria there. Much of this work concerns these animals, in the aquaria and in the nearby environment. George MacGinitie is responsible for making Urechis famous, through his classic studies (along with the late W.K. Fisher) of the ecology and feeding habits of this strange worm. The second edition is almost the same as the first, with a few name changes and some replaced illustrations; the printing is clearer. New material has been added in the form of notes to the text in an appendix. Most of this information is based on observations at Point Barrow or during European trips."

In both 1952 (page 480) and 1968 (page 538) of Between Pacific Tides, Joel Hedgpeth compliments George MacGinitie for his research at Elkhorn Slough. Joel Hedgpeth has changed completely the editing comment by "Doc" Ricketts as follows:
"Life in Elkhorn Slough before progress improved the place. In this work, little faith is placed in the mapping of communities and concurrent attempts to divide them into zones. Whether from the influence of this paper or from other factors, quantitative population studies have been scarce on this coast. When the papers of Shelford and his students, the work of Hewatt, and the unpublished work of Pitelka and Paulsen (see our pp.374-76) have been cited, that is about all we have. One of the most important deterrents to this work, of course, is the bewildering complexity of our fauna and the taxonomic uncertainty in which so many of the species are involved."

It is interesting to compare Joel Hedgpeth's 1952 and 1968 deletion of a phrase after the semicolon regarding Elkhorn Slough as follows: "some of the animal life is now making a comeback." In 1952, Joel Hedgpeth was hopeful that some of the animals that George MacGinitie noted were in trouble of local extinction at Elkhorn Slough, were perhaps making a "comeback." However, by 1968, Joel Hedgpeth retracted this observation, rightfully so! And now in the 1990s and continuing into this millenium of 2001, more water is again flooding Elkhorn Slough. New land has been acquired by state agencies and non-profit organizations, with levees breached where farming had occurred. Therefore, the phrase of "some of the animal life is now making a comeback" is appropriate to be put back into some future edition of Between Pacific Tides.

Sadly, the baton has been passed on in the fifth edition (1985) of Between Pacfic Tides, edited now by David Phillips. Joel Hedgpeth is no longer the editor, and consequently the new bibliography says nothing about Elkhorn Slough, in regard to the MacGinities, Joel Hedgpeth, or even Ed Ricketts. Times have changed. Perhaps a sixth edition of Between Pacific Tides, can report on the changes at Elkhorn Slough and refer back to the legacy of the MacGinities and Ricketts at Elkhorn Slough.

Interestingly, however, the Monterey Aquarium has published a book on Elkhorn Slough, that is quite well done. George MacGinitie and his wife Nettie are not forgotten as they are discussed in the book. However, it would have been nice to see a sidebar about the MacGinities. Here is the passage from the Monterey Aquarium booklet about the MacGinities:
"For almost as long as entrepreneurs and engineers have been shaping the slough, scientists have been studying it. In the 1920s, George and Nettie MacGinitie of Stanford University conducted the first ecological study of a California estuary here. Ed Ricketts, author John Steinbeck's buddy and model for "Doc" of Cannery Row,collected specimens from the slough's rich waters. Generations of scientists and students have traveled from Stanford, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose, and further afield to study at the slough."

Perhaps this revisionist writer, in this time of increasing interest in environmental history will complete a republication of ECOLOGY OF A CALIFORNIA MARINE ESTUARY. I have at least made a start at giving a boost to such an effort, by presenting excerpts from that early monograph. The MacGinities are certainly worthy of recognition for their classic research of the marine biology, ecology, estuaries, and wetlands in California.

There are at least two marine invertebrate animals named for George MacGinitie as follows:
1. Upogebia macginitieorum Williams;
2. Betaeus macginitieae Hart.

Finally, in a lasting tribute by the California State University marine laboratory at Moss Landing, a research boat was named for the MacGinities. The boat is moored just inside Elkhorn Slough and it was christened a few years ago by both researchers and students as the R/V MacGinitie.

SELECTED WRITINGS OF GEORGE MACGINITIE
1928: New Echiuroid Worm from California, Annals Magazine Natural History 10:199-204.
1928: Natural History of an Echiuroid Worm, Annals Magazine Natural History 10:204-211.
1930: Natural History of Mudshrimp, Upogebia. Annals Magazine Natural History 10:36-44.
1930: Range Extension & New Species of Invertebrates. Annals Magazine Natural History 10:68.
1931: Egg-laying Process of Gastropod Alectrion fossatus, Annals Magazine Natural History 10:258-261.
1932: Role of Bacteria as Food for Bottom Animals. Science 76:490.
1932: Animal Ecology Defined. Ecology 13:212-213.
1934: Natural History of Callianassa californiensis. American Midland Naturalist 15:166-177.
1934: Egg-laying Activities of the Sea Hare... Biological Bulletin 67:300-303
1935: Behavior of egg & sperm ofUrechis caupo. Journal of Experimental Zoology 70:341-354.
1935: Fertilization within Urechis caupo cavity of adult. Journal of Experimental Zoology 71:483-487.
1935: Ecological Aspects of a California Estuary. American Midland Naturalist 16:629-775.
1937: Natural History of some Marine Crustacea, American Midland Naturalist 18:1031-1037.
1937: Use of Mucus by Marine Plankton Feeders. Science 86:398-399.
1938: Natural History of some Marine Animals, American Midland Naturalist 19:207-219.
1938: Movements & Mating Habits of the Sand Crab, American Midland Naturalist 19:471-481.
1939: Littoral Marine Communities. American Midland Naturalist 21:28-53.
1939: Natural History of the Blind Goby. American Midland Naturalist 21:489-505.
1939: Some Effects of Fresh Water on Fauna in Marine Harbor. American Midland Naturalist 21:681-686.
1939: Method of Feeding of Tunicates, Biological Bulletin 77:443-447
1939: Method of Feeding of Chaetopterus, Biological Bulletin 77:115-118
1941: Method of Feeding of Four Pelecypods, Biological Bulletin 80:18-25
1945: Size of Mesh Openings in Mucous Feeding Nets..., Biological Bulletin 88:107-111
1948: Dredges for Use at Marine Laboratories. Turtox News 26(12):1-2.
1949: Natural History of Marine Animals. 473 pages.
1949: Feeding of Ophiurans. Journal of Entomology and Zoology 41:27-29.
1955: Point Barrow-Alaska Marine Invertebrates Ecology, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 128:1-201.
1959: Mollusca of Point Barrow-Alaska, Proceedings of U.S. National Museum 109: 59-208.
1964: Habitats and Breeding Seasons of the Shelf Limpet. The Veliger 8:313.
1966: Starved Abalones. The Veliger 8:313.
1968: Natural History of Marine Animals. Second Edition.
1969: Report on Mugu Lagoon. Tabulata 2:15-24.
1969: Notes on Cryptochiton stelleri. The Veliger 11:59-62.
1974: Wild World of George & Nettie MacGinitie: Biologists & Naturalists.



Writings about George MacGinitie and MacGinities
US Navy Plaque & National Park Display on MacGinities & Mugu Lagoon
1989: MacGinitie Loved Marine Sciences, & Scientist.. MacGinitie has seen 100 years.

Photographs Representing Marine Biology History of MacGinities: 1930s to 1960s
Kerckhoff Marine Lab Photo of Where MacGinities Worked
MacGinitie's Kerckhoff Marine Lab with Beach in Foreground.