Marine Labs and Field Stations – Your Research Home Away from Home

I am very fortunate to be based at a marine lab for my graduate studies. Situated at the MSC full-time allows me to head out to the field at any moment to test out field gear or get a project going – all from the comfort of “home”. If I’ve forgotten something or a piece of equipment fails I can easily run back into my lab, remedy the situation (hopefully!), and get things going again. But if your research is far away (like the tropics) or spans a large geographic area (like the whole Gulf of Maine), more careful planning and preparation is required.

Sometimes you can get away with schlepping ocean water up to your hotel room and keeping your seaweeds happy in a cooler overnight with some aquarium pumps (yes, I have done this!). But sometimes you need more space and time and this when going to other marine labs, as a visiting scientist, is essential.

I love going to other marine labs, it is a great opportunity to see how other labs are operated, visit a new location, and even interact with other scientists. Some even house and feed you and most have amazing views! Visiting in the summer is especially fun because it is usually the busy season for marine labs – more people to interact with and a lot of great “research energy” about the place. Every marine lab I’ve been to has been welcoming, helpful, and accommodating – I think it is because nearly every field ecologist has had to deal with field research far away from home and knows the challenges it entails.

This summer I got to add another marine lab to my list of those I’ve visited. The Downeast Institute is situated in Beals, ME a few hours north of Ellsworth, ME and just a few hours south of my most northeast field sites in Lubec, ME. DEI has an excellent in door fisheries research facility and a great new classroom for teaching and outreach. Although I was only there for a few days I got the sense that it is a great place to work and they may just have the prettiest views of any marine lab on the east coast! I hope I get a chance to work there again!

Inside of the fisheries facilities at DEI. Taken from their website – (Of course I forgot to take pictures while I was there!)

I also got to return to another great marine lab I’ve visited before, the Darling Marine Lab. Coming from the west coast the pine trees, layout, awesome course offerings, and operations reminds me a lot of Friday Harbor Labs in Washington.

Visiting DEI and the Darling Center had me reminiscing over all the other marine labs I’ve been to, 14 in total. I definitely have my favorites but – whether for coursework, research, or just to interact with other scientists – all are amazing places to visit.

How many marine labs have you been to? Which are your favorites? Happy end of the summer field season to you (yes, it’s mid-August)!

Here’s my list:

Bodega Marine Lab (UC Davis)

Darling Marine Center (UME)

Downeast Institute (UME)

Estación Costera de Investigaciones Marinas (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

Friday Harbor Labs (UW)

Hawaii Institute for Marine Biology (UH)

Hopkins Marine Station (Stanford)

Marine Science Center (Northeastern)

R.S. Friedman Field Station (Suffolk U)

SFS Center for Marine Resource Studies (School for Field Studies)

Shoals Marine Lab (UNH and Cornell U)

Southern California Marine Institute

Tjärnö Marine Station (U Gothenburg)

Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies (USC)


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