The Marine Biological Association

Promoting marine scientific excellence and representing the marine biological community since 1884

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The charitable aims of the Marine Biological Association (MBA) are:

‘to promote scientific research into all aspects of life in the sea, including the environment on which it depends, and to disseminate to the public the knowledge gained.’

The MBA achieves these aims through its membership, through the work of the JMBA, through high quality research and through its education and outreach programmes. The MBA actively looks for members to support the work of the Association worldwide. If you would like to join the MBA as a member please visit our membership page.

The MBA was founded in 1884 and in 1888 opened the Plymouth Laboratory at Citadel Hill. The MBA has a well respected Council who help guide the work of our researchers; please see here for a list of current Council.

The Marine Biological Association is a registered charity, charity registration number 1155893.


The MBA is a professional body for marine biologists with over 1400 members world-wide. For more information on becoming a member please read our membership page.

Scientific Research

The MBA has earned an international reputation for excellence and innovation in research, by the resident scientific staff and visiting research workers, including seven Nobel laureates. The laboratory in Plymouth has provided facilities since 1888 for in-house and visiting researchers. Some of the earliest research at Plymouth was to identify the marine life present in the area. Those surveys now provide valuable data against which to identify how the sea has changed in relation to impacts. The MBA now supports a wide range of research activities from cell and molecular to understanding ecosystem structure and functioning.

Long-term studies of marine ecosystems

Using the extensive body of information from over 100 years of research at Plymouth, the MBA is undertaking long term work on changes in fish and plankton, and leads the Marine Environmental Change Network. The MBA also led the MarClim programme, studying rocky shore indicators of climate change.

Visit the MarCLIM Website

MBA Knowledge Exchange Activities


The Journal of the Marine Biological Association (JMBA) publishes original research in marine sciences. Marine Biodiversity Records is a rapid peer-reviewed, online publication that complements the long-established Journal of the Marine Biological Association.

Find out more about JMBA

National Marine Biological Library

The National Marine Biological Library (NMBL) is responsible of supporting the scientific work of the MBA, the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) researchers, MBA members, and the MBA’s education and communication strategies. Its holdings cover the marine life and environmental sciences, and the NMBL provides a range of information services that support research in the marine sciences locally, nationally and internationally. The collection is one of the world’s largest of its kind, constituting a unique source of information in its subject area.

Visit the National Marine Biological Library website


The MBA hosts the Archive for Marine Species and Habitats Data (DASSH) part of the UK Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN)

Visit the DASSH website

Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN)

MarLIN was started in 1998 and disseminates knowledge for marine environmental management, protection and education including undertaking commissioned research and education.

Visit the MarLIN website

Education and Outreach

The MBA works locally, nationally and internationally on a diverse and innovative programme of education, communication and public engagement.  The programme has significantly developed over the last ten years with innovative projects such as the Shore Thing, Blue Sound and Sealife Survey.  The Education Team work with the research groups and partners to deliver high quality and imaginative real science education.

Visit our Education and Outreach Pages

MBA Courses, training and workshops

The MBA runs a Masters of Research (MRes) course in Marine Biology jointly with the University of Plymouth.

Courses, training and workshops are held in the Marine Life and Environmental Sciences Resource Centre.
Visit the Courses and training pages.