The papers of Gordon Luke Chan, a marine biologist who studied intertidal and subtidal marine organisms throughout the San
Francisco Bay Area and other regions of the California and Baja California coasts. Included are his research notes, population
surveys, published papers, and 35mm photographic slides of transects, and other study areas.
Gordon Luke Chan was born in 1930, in Seattle, Washington.
Degrees and Certification
He completed a B.A. and M.A. at Stanford University by 1953 and graduate fellowships at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station,
University of Washington’s School of Oceanography, and the University of Pacific’s Pacific Marine Station. He earned a California
Secondary Teaching Life Credential and taught for 38 years. His Ph.D. titled “Ecological Effects on Duxbury Reef” for the
University of California at Berkeley in 1970 included years of baseline intertidal population counts for Duxbury Reef. When
two oil tankers collided under the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971, causing the largest oil spill in San Francisco Bay history,
Chan was able to use his baseline data to analyze intertidal biota change and recovery for over ten years after the oil spill.
Chan’s work was one of very few among environmental disaster studies at the time that could compare pre- and post- event data
from fixed transect sites. He was a certified instructor for the National Association of Underwater Instructors. Chan amassed
thousands of intertidal and underwater 35 mm slides primarily covering the west coast of North America, along with Japan,
Palau, Guam, and Australia.
Research and Awards
Chan was awarded United States Special Congressional Recognition for Fossil Whale Work (1986), California State Senate Certificate
of Recognition (1993), and Marin County Board of Supervisors Special Commendation Resolution (1993). He was a Research Associate
of California Academy of Sciences (1987-1993) and was selected for the State of California Committee on the Ocean Disposal
of Radioactive Waste, Farallon Islands (1985-1991). He wrote more than 24 studies, including research for the U.S. Department
of Interior - Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, California State Department of Water Quality Control Board,
California Department of Fish and Game, and California State Parks. Chan spearheaded State Marine Reserve designation by
California State Fish and Game for Duxbury Reef (1971), Limantour Spit (1972), and the Point Reyes Headlands (1972). Given
that only four locations in the United States had received State Marine Reserve designation prior to that, Chan pioneered
conservation efforts in northern California. When colleague Carl V. Ziegler discovered a new genus and species of extinct
baleen whale, Chan secured funding in order to support student work excavating and assembling the holotype, Parabalenoptera
baulinensis (Ziegler, Chan, and Barnes, 1997). Chan served on the Bolinas Lagoon Technical Advisory Committee from 1974 to
1993. Along with Al Molina in 1963, Chan co-founded the Bolinas Marine Station which was the only community-college facility
at the time offering a marine technician certification program. Chan’s conservation efforts resulted in fish gates and improved
flood control for Marin’s Corte Madera Creek. A nudibranch, Hallaxa chani, was named in his honor (Gosliner & Williams, 1975).
He passed away in 1996.