FHL is world renowned for research on marine biology, oceanography and fisheries. The waters around San Juan Island are relatively free from pollution with swift tideways as well as quiet bays and lagoons. A tidal range of about three meters exposes diverse intertidal areas of rock, sand and mud. The flora and fauna are exceptionally rich.
Representatives of nearly all major groups of marine algae, invertebrates and fish can be collected at the shore and depths down to 300 meters can be explored by dredging and other collecting techniques. The islands of the San Juan Archipelago are generally rocky, forested and rimmed by precipitous shores. The islands were strongly glaciated and have valleys with lakes, swamps and bogs. The varied terrestrial and freshwater habitats offer diverse flora and fauna for classes and researchers.
The 490-acre tract of land on which FHL is located, and the marine waters of the region are biological preserves. FHL also manage biological preserves at False Bay and Argyle Lagoon on San Juan Island, at Point George and Cedar Rock on Shaw Island, and other areas. These preserves provide a wide range of protected terrestrial and marine environments for short-term and long-term research projects.
Research at FHL is conducted throughout the year. Courses are offered during Autumn, Spring and Summer being the busiest time. Various college-level educational groups visit FHL for field trips, meetings and symposia during the Autumn, Winter and Spring months.