These records document the administration, field work, and research activities of the Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program, especially its bird banding, island survey,
and pelagic survey programs. Included are reports, correspondence, field records, office records, contracts, data, notes, manuscripts, maps, and photographs. The records also
contain material from earlier field activities in the Pacific that was collected by the POBSP.
Many of the materials in this collection have been digitized.
View Digitized Materials.
The Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program (POBSP) was initiated in 1962 when the Smithsonian Institution entered into a grant agreement with the Department of Defense.
From January 1963 through June 1969 Smithsonian Institution employees undertook biological surveys in an area of the Pacific Ocean spanning the equator and extending from
latitude 30 degrees north to 10 degrees south and from longitude 150 degrees east to 180 degrees west, an area dotted with clusters of islands and atolls. The major goals
of the program were to learn what plants and animals occurred on the islands, the seasonal variations in their numbers and reproductive activities, and the distribution and
population of the pelagic birds of that area. Emphasis was placed on the banding of birds in an effort to determine migration, distribution, and abundance of pelagic sea birds.
During the six and a half years of field work 1,800,000 birds were banded; approximately 150,000 observations of pelagic birds at sea were made; and biological surveys of
varying intensity were made on several islands.
The principal investigator of the POBSP was Philip S. Humphrey (1926-2009), who came to the Smithsonian Institution in 1962 as curator of birds. In 1964 Humphrey became
chairman of the newly created Department of Vertebrate Zoology, while retaining his position as curator of birds. In 1967 he left the Smithsonian to become director of the
Museum of Natural History and chairman of the Department of Zoology at the University of Kansas. He remained principal investigator of the Survey and retained his connection
with the Smithsonian as a research associate.