The Sea is the Sky

Posted on Apr 9, 2019

The Sea Is The Sky

Is it raining where you are now?

The ‘ Sea is the Sky ’ is an outdoor billboard campaign run by We Are Ocean in partnership with Glimpse . Activated when it rains throughout April 2019, city dwellers across the UK are encouraged to connect rain with the ocean, emphasising one of the life giving roles the ocean plays in our lives.

We Are Ocean is a collective of organisations (of which the MBA is a part) working together to accelerate ocean literacy in UK culture, raising understanding of our inextricable connection with the ocean. As an independent organisation with a core aim to promote the investigation, and to disseminate knowledge, of the seas and marine life, the MBA’s work seeks to better understand the marine environment and engage people in taking an active role in supporting conservation of our marine resources. There are many ways we do this,...

Marine Biologist for a Day 2019; what a week!

Posted on Mar 27, 2019

Last week people around the UK celebrated National Science Week, which means the return of the very successful event: ‘Marine Biologist for a Day’! The Marine Biological Association hosted children of primary and secondary school ages alike for three days of fun and learning at the Laboratory, with the events running all day from Wednesday through to Friday. Each day the children were split into three groups, where they would get to question, listen and learn from some of the MBA’s best.

The Seawater Hall:


Feast your eyes on the array of weird and wonderful fish specimens that are out on display. Try your luck at the supermarket challenge and guess how seaweed is used and consumed in our day-to-day lives. Touch and feel the different textures of the seaweed samples and learn why algae are so much cooler than terrestrial plants...

The Amazing World of Algae: Eden Edition

Posted on Mar 27, 2019

Eliane teaching about the variety of seaweeds found in the UK at the Live Seaweed Exploration Station

At the beginning of February, the MBA education team journeyed to the Eden project in Cornwall for an amazing weekend at the opening of the brand new ‘Invisible Worlds’ exhibit. Not only did we get a chance to explore the new ‘Ocean: Plankton Chronicles’ exhibit by Christian Sardet & The Macronauts, but we got to witness Christian and Noé Sardet officially cut the ribbon which was an amazing experience to be a part of! We also had the MBA’s own ‘Amazing World of Algae’ exhibit, situated within the Invisible World labs.Despite the snowy and icy start leading to road closures on the Saturday morning, the footfall gradually increased to a constant flow of enthusiastic people of all ages, ready to take part in our various activities.


Eliane teaching about the variety of seaweeds found in the UK at the Live Seaweed Exploration Station.

Visitors included...

DNA analysis of archived plankton samples reveals unexpected diversity

Posted on Jan 23, 2019

Harmful blooms of the alga Pseudo-nitzschia cause huge damage in coastal areas globally.

The MBA holds thousands of plankton samples stretching back to 1960. Research in Marine Ecology Progress Series led by Dr Rowena Stern found an unexpectedly large number of different varieties within this toxic algal species.

This is the first time we have used DNA from these archived samples to identify toxic algae. This allows us to map changes in the health of our ocean, benefiting wildlife and humans.

Dr Stern said: “ Pseudo-nitzschia cells are almost impossible to tell apart using routine microscopy, but using this technique we can discriminate between many toxic and non-toxic forms, allowing us to map ocean health and predict movements of toxic algae more precisely”.

Researchers at the MBA are looking at mapping changes in toxic...

Research identifies alien species posing the greatest threat to European biodiversity

Posted on Jan 21, 2019

Striped catfish, Plotosus lineatus

Scientists have identified 66 alien plant and animal species, not yet established in the European Union, that pose the greatest potential threat to biodiversity and ecosystems in the region.

The research, led by Professor Helen Roy of the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and involving 43 people from across Europe including John Bishop, Christine Wood and Jack Sewell from the MBA, and funded by the European Commission, was published on 13 December 2018 in the journal Global Change Biology .

The authors developed a horizon-scanning approach in order to derive a ranked list of potential invasive alien species (IAS). Using this procedure, they worked collaboratively to reach consensus about the alien species most likely to arrive, establish, spread and have an impact on biodiversity in the region over the next decade.

Four of the eight highest...

Crab Watch blog: 18 November 2018

Posted on Dec 19, 2018

The MBA education team held a crabbing competition at Sutton Harbour, in collaboration with @theboxplymouth , to involve the public with the citizen science project ‘ Crab Watch ’. Crab Watch has been developed as part of the European funded Sea Change initiative to collect large amounts of valuable species distribution data, and increase Ocean Literacy in Europe. The event brought out the scientist in everyone, with university students, parents, children and scientists working together to contribute to a dataset spanning Europe.

For 75 minutes families and friends competed to catch the largest crab. The teams recorded 50 crabs during the competition, with the winning crab an impressive 74mm across! Everyone was also on the lookout for non-native species and, any parasites attached to the crabs caught. Luckily only healthy specimens of the Common Shore crab ( Carcinus...

Sir Edwin Ray Lankester FRS (1847-1929)

Posted on Dec 17, 2018

Sir Edwin Ray Lankester FRS (1847-1929)

Sir Edwin Ray Lankester FRS (1847-1929) Ray Lankester was a brilliant zoologist who studied arthropods, molluscs and protozoans. His teaching career began under Professor T.H. Huxley at the then Royal College of Science, but he later held chairs at University College London (1874-90) and at Oxford (1891-98). He was also Director of the Natural History Museum (1898-1907) as referenced in David Walliams' book The Ice Monster . He was effectively the founder of the MBA which originated at the International Fisheries Exhibition in 1883, and was Honorary Secretary of the MBA from 1884 until he became President in 1890. Lankester actively promoted fishery research at Plymouth and was instrumental in obtaining the grant from the government for the MBA to conduct the English share of the International North Sea investigations, 1902-09.