Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (UMCES)

Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (UMCES)

The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) is an environmental research facility of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) the principal institution for advanced environmental research and graduate studies within the University System of Maryland. The breadth of expertise among our faculty opens the door for research that cuts across the boundaries of traditional scientific disciplines and fosters collaboration with leading researchers within the CBL community and beyond.

Located where the Patuxent River meets the Chesapeake Bay, CBL’s team of faculty and student researchers are developing new scientific approaches to solving environmental management problems facing our nation, region and the world. From the vast Arctic Ocean to the local streams of Calvert County, CBL is constantly pioneering new frontiers in environmental science.

The CBL is a vibrant part of the Solomons Island community where students, faculty, visitors and local residents come to learn about the natural environment.  At the CBL Visitors Center, you will learn about the Chesapeake Bay, see an oyster reef aquarium, and discover the research being pioneered by CBL's team of faculty and student scientists.

Enter Your Location


The CBL Visitors Center opens for the season on the first Friday in May. Our days of operation vary seasonally:

  • Calvert & St Mary's County Spring Break: Everyday. Noon to 4 pm.
  • May through Memorial Day:  Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Noon to 4 pm.
  • Memorial Day to Labor Day:  Wednesday through Sunday. 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Labor Day through early December:  Friday, Saturday, Sunday. 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
  • Our Visitor Center will be open for special hours during the Solomons Island Christmas Walk.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


Visitor Center is free.


Founded in 1925, the CBL has long been a national leader in fisheries, environmental chemistry and toxicology, and ecosystem science and restoration ecology. The breadth of expertise among our faculty opens the door for research that cuts across the boundaries of traditional scientific disciplines and fosters collaboration with leading researchers within the CBL community and beyond.


CBL Visitors Center

  • CBL Welcome Video: Who are we and what do we do?
  • Chesapeake Bay Ecology Exhibit: Is the Bay healthy?
  • Oyster Reef Aquarium Exhibit: What's living in the nooks and crannies of the oyster reef?   
  • CBL Research Exhibit: Highlights of current environmental research.
  • Making Waves with CBL Students:  Select from short videos to learn about grauate student research, in their own words.
  • Interactive Computer Exhibit: Remote sensing and electronic technologies used by scientists today.  Weather and water data collected from the CBL Research Pier. View the osprey and underwater fish cameras.

Science for Citizens Seminar Series

Join us at the oldest state-supported marine lab on the East Coast to learn about innovative research being pioneered by Chesapeake Biological Laboratory scientists.  As a part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, our faculty and graduate students are developing new approaches to solving the environmental management problems facing Calvert County, our nation, and the world. Science for Citizens seminars are split into a Fall and Spring series, each of which will include five seminars.  Each Science for Citizens seminar will be presented by an UMCES scientist and will inform the public about a featured research effort.

Campus Tours

Free Campus Tours are offered to the public on Fridays at 2 pm from June through the end of November.  These tours last approximately 1 hour and depart from the Visitor Center.  Please arrive 15 minutes early for tours.  Because this is a working lab, Campus Tours will not include access to our actual laboratories. Children must be age 12 and over and accompanied by a responsible adult.  Some areas on the tours may not be handicap accessible as many of our campus building are historic structures.

Group Tours

Free Group Tours are an excellent way to learn about our work here at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. These pre-arranged tours can be tailored to match the specific interests of your group, allow for a more immersive experience, and provide a behind-the-scenes look at lab research. All tours must take place Monday - Friday during normal buisness hours. Contact the Outreach Coordinator at least two weeks in advance to arrange group tours throughout the year.

Volunteer Oportunities


The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is comprised of several buildings located at the southern tip of Solomons Island.  Because the campus is a working laboratory, the CBL Visitor Center is the only publically accessible building on campus.

  • Solomons House - Visitor's Center
  • Beaven Hall - Administration & Library
  • Bernie Fowler Laboratory (BFL) 
  • R.V. Truitt Controlled Environment Laboratory
  • Cronin Research Complex
  • Cory Research Laboratory
  • Coastal Technology Laboratory
  • Mansueti Laboratory
  • Research Pier
  • Nice Hall
  • Carey House
  • Saunders House
  • Becker House
  • Parish House
  • Northam House
  • Swift House 
  • Kopp House 
  • Storage Building
  • Maintenance Building
  • Research Fleet Operations Center


The Visitors Center is ADA compliant.

Main image: Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (UMCES)
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