Marine Biological Association Marks 140 Year Anniversary

Celebrating a Legacy of Marine Research, Education, and Conservation

The Marine Biological Association (MBA) is proud to celebrate its 140-year anniversary, marking a significant milestone in the field of marine biology. Founded in 1884, the MBA has been at the forefront of research, education, and conservation efforts in marine science.

With a rich history and a strong commitment to advancing knowledge and understanding of the marine environment, the Association has played a vital role in shaping the scientific community.

The MBA building in 2023

Throughout its long-standing history, the MBA has made significant contributions to marine research. Its dedicated team of marine biologists have conducted groundbreaking studies on various aspects of marine life, from the smallest microorganisms to large marine predators.

These findings have not only expanded our understanding of the intricate marine ecosystem, but also provided valuable insights into the impacts of human activities on marine life.

With a rich legacy spanning several decades, the MBA has been a hub for scientific excellence and collaboration, attracting some of the brightest minds in the field of marine biology.

Seven Nobel Prize winners have carried out research at the MBA. In 1963 the Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded jointly to Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir Andrew Huxley who discovered how nerve cells transmit signals in squid. The two physiologists primarily conducted their research at the MBA and were honoured with a blue plaque which is on display at the front entrance of the MBA building at Citadel Hill, Plymouth.  

The MBA is home to the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) Survey, the longest running and most geographically extensive marine plankton sampling program in the world. In 2020 the CPR Survey received a Guinness World Records title for greatest distance sampled by a marine survey, reaching over 7 million nautical miles.

The survey reached its milestone 90th Anniversary in 2021 and has helped shape scientific understanding about the health of our ocean, and how marine life is changing in response to pressures like climate change.

Loading CPR unit CPR Ops Continuous Plankton Recorder

In 2013, the MBA was granted a Royal Charter at the Court at Buckingham Palace in recognition of its long and eminent history, and its status within the field of marine biology.

Close up of Royal Charter

Chief Executive Professor Willie Wilson said: “As the Marine Biological Association celebrates its 140 year anniversary, it looks towards the future with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. Building upon its rich legacy, the Association continues to strive for excellence in marine research, education, and conservation. With the ever-increasing challenges facing our ocean, the work of the association remains as crucial as ever in safeguarding the marine environment for future generations.”

Watch our official video celebrating 140 years of pioneering research
Celebrate with us

Throughout our 140 celebrations; we will be sharing many fascinating facts, themes and topics that represent our distinguished history, present day achievements and exciting future opportunities as we continue our journey as the voice of marine biology.

To find out more, please visit our 140 Anniversary webpage and follow us on X, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.