Cadet Hand Jr., 86; scholar at UC Berkeley was expert on West Coast ocean life, ran lab

Times Staff Writer

Cadet Hammond Hand Jr., a marine biologist on the faculty of UC Berkeley for more than 50 years and founding director of the Bodega Marine Laboratory in Northern California, died Nov. 29. He was 86.

Hand died of cancer at his home in Salmon Creek, near Bodega Bay, according to the university's media relations office.

"Cadet was one of the last great scholars familiar with all the animals along the American Pacific coast," James Carlton, a professor of marine sciences at Williams College in Massachusetts and a former student of Hand, said Friday.

"He could tell you about everything that is out there, and what its role is in the marine realm. He had an unmatched knowledge," Carlton added.

Hand's expertise in West Coast marine life from Alaska to Mexico made him "a fundamental resource for the public, politicians and the press," Carlton said. They consulted him on the impact of oil spills, storms and other major disasters.

He had a global reputation for his knowledge of invertebrate zoology, particularly sea anemones. "He received specimens from all over the world with notes asking him, 'What is this'?" Carlton said.

Hand's passion for ocean science led him to help create the marine lab, which is part of the UC system.

He and colleagues first talked about the idea in the 1950s when Hand was a young professor of zoology at Berkeley.

He was appointed director of the project in 1961. The laboratory, set on a 362-acre research reserve, opened five years later. It was administered by UC Berkeley for years, but UC Davis began running it in 1983. The facility is available to marine scientists in the UC system and visiting scientists but is not generally open to the public.

An estimated 300 scientists visit each year to study invasive species, pollution, the decline of fisheries and other phenomena. In addition, about 10,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12 tour the lab each year.

"None of this would be here without Cadet," said Gary Cherr, acting director of the Bodega Marine Laboratory, on Friday. "He had a vision for the place and he obtained the initial funding."

When Hand and his colleagues selected Bodega Head for a site, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. planned to build a nuclear reactor there. In the early 1960s, however, the state denied the power company a building permit, partly because of community resistance. The encounter got Hand interested in nuclear issues.

He served on the safety and licensing board of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which governs civilian use of nuclear materials, for about 20 years starting in the early 1970s.

Hand was born April 23, 1920, in Patchogue on Long Island, N.Y.

He earned a bachelor of science degree at the University of Connecticut and completed a master's degree and a doctorate at UC Berkeley.

He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1953 and became a full professor 10 years later. He retired from teaching and from the marine lab in 1985. That year he became an emeritus professor.

The library at Bodega Marine Laboratory was named for him in 1996.

Hand is survived by his wife, Winifred, of Salmon Creek, and two sons, Cadet Hammond III "Skip" and Gary, both of Sebastapol.

Contributions can be made to the Cadet Hand Library, Bodega Marine Laboratory, P.O. Box 247, Bodega Bay, CA 94923.

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