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Cougars and Mustangs



How would you like to take a long walk on a short pier? No? Good, because then you would miss the opening of the Cal Poly pier for marine life sciences. That’s right, the land-lovin’ Mustangs have taken to the sea. On Saturday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to noon, Cal Poly will be showing off its new marine digs in Avila Beach, where the public can enjoy interactive displays, touch-tanks full of cuddly ocean critters, and ocean research robots. There will even be microscopes to view smaller varieties of marine life.

Professors and students will be at the ready to answer any questions visitors might have about local marine life. It’s an opportunity to become better-versed in the issues surrounding “Morro Bay’s ecosystem, sustaining local fisheries and mapping ocean currents on the Central Coast.”

According to Cal Poly’s website, the Cal Poly pier was donated by Unocal “as an effort to improve the research of marine environments. This … includes studying the ecosystems that were contaminated in 1988 and still remain affected today.”

The now high-tech pier has an extensive past life. It was “originally a wooden pier built in 1914 by the Pacific Coast Railway Co. The pier was formerly used to ship dry goods until later in 1922 when it became the world’s largest crude oil shipping port. Unocal purchased the pier in 1941, just in time to supply the Pacific Fleet with oil for World War II. The wooden pier was demolished by the winter’s storms in 1983.”

Today, the Cal Poly pier is the only steel pier in the nation. Unocal donated the pier in 2001, and has since given Cal Poly $3.5 million to cover costs of operation and maintenance. This is one of several of Unocal’s projects to repair the local environment since causing severe oil pollution between the 1920s and the 1990s.

The pier itself is more than a mile long, with exhibits at the end. According to its website, future plans for the pier include a seawater lab, vessel landing, and a remodel of the current building to accommodate a classroom and lab rooms.

If you’re attending the pier opening, be sure to wear close-toed shoes. Also be aware that rain will cancel the event. The Cal Poly pier is on Avila Beach Drive, west of the San Luis Creek Bridge. Parking is limited near the pier. For more information on the pier day, visit

Intern Maeva Considine compiled this week’s Cougars and Mustangs. Send your collegiate news to

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