Smithsonian Scientists Conduct Biological Survey on Bikini Atolls




Date: 1946-1947


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  • In 1946, Smithsonian staff join a team of scientists at the request of the U. S. Navy to send experts to the Marshall Islands. Called Operation Crossroads, scientists conduct a biological survey of the Bikini Atolls prior to testing the atomic bomb there. Leonard Peter Schultz, ichthyologist, and Joseph P.E. Morrison, invertebrate zoologist, at the National Museum of Natural History, were among the scientists sent on the survey.
  • The Bikini scientists survey of plants and animals on and around Bikini, Eniwetok, Rongelap and Rongerik Atolls, and compile data on the abundance and distribution of organisms prior to the bomb tests. They also collect specimens after the bomb tests, to compare with the earlier data.
  • One year later, on June 28, 1947, Schultz and Morrison return to the Bikini Atoll, to conduct a resurvey. Frederick M. Bayer, a young, newly hired invertebrate zoologist at the museum specializing in corals also goes. This Smithsonian team conducts a wide range of studies and brings in many new collections to the National Museum which stimulate a great deal of research on the flora and fauna of the region.


  • Schultz, Leonard P (Leonard Peter) 1901-
  • Morrison, Joseph
  • Bayer, Frederick M


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image of scientists on Bikini Atoll during the 1946-47 Operation Crossroads, 1947, 92-11701.
  • Transcript of Leonard P. Schultz Oral History, SI Archives Record Unit 9510.
  • Video clip of Operation Crossroads footage, Accession 95-138.
  • Audio Clip, Leonard P. Schultz discussing his selection to the Operation Crossroads team, Record Unit 9510.
  • Audio Clip, Leonard P. Schultz describing the explosion of the Atomic Bomb, Record Unit 9510.
  • Leonard P. Schultz Oral History Interviews, Record Unit 9510.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Scientific expeditions
  • Atomic bomb
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Explorations and Expeditions
  • Employees
  • Ichthyology
  • Operation Crossroads, Marshall Islands, 1946/1947
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees


  • Pacific Ocean
  • Bikini Atoll (Marshall Islands)
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Island
  • Bikini Atoll

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