St Abbs Marine Station

In 2020, St Abbs Marine Station began a five year collaboration with the University of Edinburgh to develop the facility’s potential by conducting research, conservation and educational activities to ensure more sustainable use of the seas and marine ecosystems.

A joint working group has been established, chaired by Professor Murray Roberts and involving researchers from the Schools of Geosciences and Biological Sciences, the Roslin Institute, and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. 

Facilities overview

To learn more, head to the marine station website:

St Abbs Marine Station is a Scottish registered charity, located on the East coast of Scotland, dedicated to marine science, conservation, and education.

Located in the historic fishing village of St Abbs in the Scottish Borders, the marine station is ideally placed to access the important marine environment and clean water of the Berwickshire coast. These coastal waters, part of the oldest voluntary marine reserve in the UK, are known for their particular seascape and rich biodiversity. The marine station is located on the edge of the harbour which gives easy field access to the intertidal and inshore environment.

In 2020, St Abbs Marine Station signed a 5-year collaboration with the University of Edinburgh to develop the facility’s potential by conducting research, conservation, and educational activities to ensure more sustainable use of the sea and marine ecosystems.

The facility consists of a research aquarium with a floor area of 245m2, plus adjoining laboratory, office space, and a detached 100,000L mesocosm.


The aquarium operates on a continuous flow-through system via twin intake pipes. The intakes provide the facility with a constant 20,000L/h of raw seawater directly from the North Sea. The aquarium water chemistry therefore mirrors that of the inshore water chemistry without the risk of contamination or settlement.

The aquarium was designed to facilitate changing environmental conditions. A clear roof enables the aquarium to experience the natural photoperiod and subtle changes in lighting, whilst shade netting and ventilation through wooden slats in the walls allows the internal air temperature to remain close to the external.

The open-space aquarium holds a range of glass or insulated fibreglass tanks. From small 10L to large 20,000L, rectangular or rounded, shallow or deep, the tanks are very versatile and allow for control of numerous conditions such as temperature, lighting, and water chemistry.

Several custom-built EMF generating devices offer the possibility to conduct research projects on various marine species at different EMF levels (which those species might encounter around subsea power cables).


The mesocosm tank has a 100,000L capacity and is designed to allow the establishment of a marine ecosystem and facilitate the study of interspecies interaction, bridging the gap between lab and field experimentation. It is 4 meters deep with an open top and 3  thick acrylic panels on one side allow the observation and study of the inhabitants, Like the rest of the facility, the mesocosm operates on a flow-through system and also has recirculation filtration and temperature control.

Temperature controlled rooms

Two temperature-controlled rooms are used to conduct research which requires more precise control of temperature and lighting conditions. They are supplied with electricity and are connected to the aquarium’s seawater supply system. Temperature can range from 0° to 30°.


The dry laboratory space features anti-vibration tables and a range of equipment including compound and dissecting microscopes, precision weighing scales, spectrophotometer and centrifuge.