Future of marine studies at St Abbs station

editorial image

St Abbs’ harbour-side research station is to become a base for studies aimed at boosting understanding and conservation of the marine environment under a new collaboration launched this week.

Scottish scientists will use St Abbs Marine Station to study the complex interactions between the sea and humans as part of a partnership between the station and Edinburgh Napier and Heriot-Watt Universities, members of the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS).

It is hoped that the state-of-the-art facility - well suited for climate change-related studies, larval research and studies on life-cycles and rearing techniques – will become a key training ground for the next generation of marine scientists.

The marine station, a registered charity funded by private donors, is the culmination of four years of planning, development and construction work in the historic harbour village.

It boasts a laboratory, offices, a 275m2 research area for aquaria and a separate 100,000-litre mesocosm tank. All tanks are provided with a continuous supply of fresh seawater and are under a transparent roof, allowing natural light throughout the research area.

Stephen Nesbitt, Chairman of the Trustees of St Abbs Marine Station, has furthered the charity’s conservation and education objectives by signing a tripartite collaboration agreement with Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University, and Professor Richard Williams, Principal of Heriot-Watt University.

The agreement will see senior research staff from the academic partners, Dr Karen Diele from Edinburgh Napier and Dr Bill Sanderson from Heriot-Watt, seconded to the marine station as co-directors of research to develop an innovative and challenging research programme.

The marine station already gives PhD students opportunities to conduct research, and undergraduate and postgraduate students engaged with marine biology at the two universities will benefit from the collaboration.

Stephen Nesbitt said: “Building the station was a great effort involving the hard work and support of many people, not least in the local community.

“I am now very excited to see our next aim being achieved, the realisation of marine research on a wide range of matters of scientific interest and environmental concern, focusing on the wonderful marine environment here at St Abbs and the North Sea.”