Marine Biological Association and Marine Protected Areas, mission to find fish using autonomous endurance vessels



    ASV Global's C-Enduro solar and wind powered catamaran


The C-Enduro features an under-slung Ampair wind generator suspended from a swivel from a looped frame that also carries communications. Solar panels are also used, laid simply as a suspended deck above as ordinary catamaran twin hull-form. The off-the-shelf catamaran may not win any design awards, but then the ultra-conservative NOC called for, a no-frills persistent monitoring platform. We note from this picture that some shading of the solar panels is inevitable from the hoop frame, etc. Doubtless, the energy harvesting setup will include electronic solar trackers (as per PlanetSolar) to overcome the negative effects of shading. Either that, or the panels used could be amorphous (not here), for their ability to cope with shading, with a reduction in efficiency. The craft has a diesel generator onboard to make up for energy harvesting lulls and otherwise boost performance. She looks to be a 20-25 footer.




Three marine robot vehicles have been launched from Plymouth today to undertake a fish tracking mission in and around new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Scientists from the Marine Biological Association (MBA) and engineers from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) are working together on this pioneering project to study how fish use these areas on a day-to-day basis.

Using acoustic pingers, plaice, sole, brill and rays are being tracked at sea by the ocean robots programmed to patrol a large area of the MPAs there are also a number of seabed listening stations which work in concert with the ocean robots.

The three autonomous vehicles – AutoNaut, C-Enduro and the SV3 Waveglider – are all carrying a range of sensors to collect additional data on the physical properties of the ocean, such as water temperature and salinity. On-board GoPro cameras will also capture valuable photographs and video footage of seabirds and other marine life.




The AutoNaut is a fine entry and ended monohull that is powered by solar and wave energy. Compared to the other members of this fleet, it looks to be smaller, about the size of the ill-fated Scout Transatlantic - that was only solar powered. Note that the student built Scout Trans-Atlantic attempt did not fail due to size, rather it seems an electrical or electronic fault is, or was to blame.



Dr. Stephen Cotterell, of the Marine Biological Association, is leading the project. He is quoted as saying:


“This technology will give us a new dimension in our understanding of fish movements, residency and migrations in and around the marine protected areas off Plymouth. Understanding how fish use MPAs will be vital in understanding the value of these management tools to conserve fish stocks. One of the aims of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive is achieving sustainable fisheries, through an ecologically coherent network of MPAs. We just don’t know enough yet about how effective MPAs are for mobile species. With this work we aim to get somewhere closer.”

The second phase of the project is expected to last until mid-November and follows the successful first phase, which saw five marine robots travelling for hundreds of kilometers off the Isles of Scilly to collect ocean and meteorological data.

Dr. Maaten Furlong, Head of the NOC’s Marine Autonomous Robotics Systems group is quoted as saying: "This second phase builds on the success of Phase 1 and allows us to test the vehicle fleet in coastal waters. Using autonomous surface vehicles in combination with fixed seabed assets significantly enhances the scientific value of the system.”

The two-phase project is reported to be the largest deployment of marine autonomous systems ever seen in the U.K. and will provide valuable information about the shelf seas, marine life and the scope for autonomous vehicles in future research projects.

AutoNaut was built and is operated on behalf of the NOC by MOST (Autonomous Vessels) Ltd; C-Enduro was built and is operated on behalf of the NOC by ASV Ltd; and the NOC’s own SV3 Waveglider is being supported by its manufacturer (Liquid Robotics).




Liquid Robotics Waveglider is a solar and wave powered autonomous monohull that is simple and robust, save for the underwater fin assembly that might have been inspired by a Venetian blind or kite, as mush as a fish tail.



The Marine Biological Association




The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (MBA) is a learned society with a scientific laboratory that undertakes research in marine biology. The organisation was founded in 1884 and has been based in Plymouth (Hoe) since the Citadel Hill Laboratory was opened on 30 June 1888. It has a world-leading reputation for marine biological research, with some twelve Nobel laureates having been or being associated with it over the course of their career. Among them, A. V. Hill received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1922 "for his discovery relating to the production of heat in the muscle". The discovery of the mechanism of nerve impulses (action potentials) in animals was made at the Laboratory in Plymouth by Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin and Sir Andrew Huxley, work for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1963. The MBA publishes the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. The MBA is also home to the National Marine Biological Library, whose collections cover the marine biological sciences, and curates the Historical Collections. In 2013, the MBA was granted a Royal Charter in recognition of the MBA's scientific preeminence in its field.


The original Laboratory has been expanded and modernized. The choice of location for the MBA was very important, as one of the Laboratory’s requirements was to be able to pump sea-water. This was achieved via a well which is situated on the Hoe’s foreshore, beneath the Laboratory. From the beginning, the MBA opened its tank rooms to the public and it continued to do so until 1998, when the collection was transferred to the new National Marine Aquarium nearby.

Scientific staff at the MBA have always been at the forefront of the study of the marine environment. Alongside resident scientific staff, the MBA has always hosted and collaborated with visiting researchers. Seven Nobel laureates have conducted research there, in fields including medicine, physiology and chemistry. The MBA’s current research programme includes work on cell physiology, behavioral ecology, climate change and marine diversity. The MBA works with many national and international universities to train the next generation of marine biologists and support the marine biological community.

The MBA has published a scientific journal, the Journal of the Marine Biological Association, since 1887. In its current format, this is a peer-reviewed, international science journal covering all aspects of marine biology.

The MBA is the custodian of the collections of the National Marine Biological Library (NMBL), which was founded in 1887 to support the research work of the Association. Today, the NMBL is constituted of the MBA’s library and archive collections, and its staff provide information services to support research. The collections are one of the world’s largest in the field; they comprise an up-to-date selection of books and journals, and a sizeable historical collection which includes expedition reports from all over the world, old books (dating back to 1554), conference proceedings and the personal libraries of several past MBA researchers. The library also holds long runs of periodicals and grey literature from all over the world. The MBA Archive Collection constitutes a unique resource which documents not only the MBA’s institutional history, but also the evolution of the marine biological sciences in Great Britain and beyond. Items in the archives include personal papers and letters, documents, photographs, drawings, lantern slides and microscope slides.

The MBA also has a collection of scientific instruments and objects. The collection includes one of only five extant Levin-Wyman ergometers (invented at the MBA) which measure work done by muscles, and a sledge, skis poles and an ice axe used by MBA biologist E. W. Nelson on the 1910-1913 British Antarctic Expedition (Terra Nova). These instruments and objects can often be linked to specific scientific research or MBA researchers, and to material held in the MBA Archive Collection. The history of the objects and the science which they enabled is significant within the context of the history of marine biology and biological sciences more generally.





The MBA's laboratory, archives and exhibition building, The Citadel, Plymouth Hoe.





In 1866 the Royal Commission on the Sea Fisheries, which included among its officers Professor Thomas Henry Huxley, had reported that fears of over-exploitation of the sea fisheries were unfounded. They recommended removing existing laws regulating fishing grounds and closed seasons. However, the increase in the size and number of fishing vessels was causing widespread concern, and there were reports from all around the UK coasts about the scarcity of particular fish. This concern was expressed at the International Fisheries Exhibition in London in 1883, a conference called to discuss the commercial and scientific aspects of the fishing industry, and which was attended by many leading scientists of the day. Nevertheless, in his opening address, Huxley discounted reports of fish scarcities and repeated the views of the Royal Commission of 1866. He stated that with existing methods of fishing, it was inconceivable that the great sea fisheries, such as those for cod (Gadus morhua), herring (Clupea harengus) and mackerel (Scomber scombrus), could ever be exhausted.

Many of the representatives of science and commerce present had different views to Huxley. Their views were put forward by E. Ray Lankester, who summed up the scientific contributions in an essay on what we would now call ecology. He pointed out that "it is a mistake to suppose that the place of fish removed from a particular fishing ground is immediately taken by some of the grand total of fish, which are so numerous in comparison with man's depredations as to make his operations in this respect insignificant...there is on the contrary evidence that shoal fish, like herrings, mackerel and pilchard (Sardina pilchardus), and ground-fish, such as soles and other flat-fishes, are really localised. If man removes a large proportion of these fish from the areas which they inhabit, the natural balance is upset and chiefly in so far as the production of young fish is concerned." During this masterly address he went on to develop this theme and concluded with an appeal for the formation of a society to foster the study of marine life, both for its scientific interest and because of the need to know more about the life histories and habitats of food fishes. Professor Lankester envisaged that such a society would construct a laboratory close to the coast, with the building containing aquaria and apparatus for the circulation of seawater and, most importantly, laboratory accommodation for scientists. The appeal was answered by a group of eminent scientists, who resolved to form a society and build a laboratory on the British coast.




The Scottish equivalent of the MBA, set in some of the finest locations one might want to carry out this valuable research.




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 was founded in 1884 and in 1888 opened the Plymouth laboratory at Citadel Hill. The MBA provides a unified, clear, independent voice on behalf of the marine biological community.

The Patron of the Association is His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, who is also an Honorary Fellow. The other Honorary Fellows are His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, Dr Sylvia Earle, Sir Tim Hunt and Professor James Lovelock.




Prof. C. Brownlee (Director): 3331
Mr J. Parr (Deputy Director Operations, Infrastructure and Education): 3338
Professor D. Sims (Deputy Director Research): 3227
Dr M Frost (Deputy Director, Policy and Knowledge Exchange): 3334
Company registration

Company limited by guarantee, registered in England number 21401

Registered charity number 226063





MBA Director


Prof Colin Brownlee – Current Research



Research Fellows


Prof David Sims – Current Research



Dr Michael Cunliffe – Current Research



Dr Nova Mieszkowska – Current Research



Dr Declan Schroeder – Current Research



Dr Alison Taylor – Current Research



Dr Dan Smale – Current Research



Dr Pawel Burkhardt – Current Research 




Associate Fellows


Dr John Bishop (Marine Biological Association) – Current Research

Dr Steve Coombs (Marine Biological Association)

Dr David Conway (Marine Biological Association)

Dr Keith Hiscock (Marine Biological Association)

Dr Emma Jackson (Marine Biological Association)

Dr Ian Joint (Marine Biological Association)

Dr Olivia Langmead (Marine Biological Association)

Dr Bill Langston (Marine Biological Association) – Current Research


Visiting Fellows


Dr Brad Amos FRS (Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge)

Professor Richard Hartnoll (University of Liverpool)

Professor Stephen J. Hawkins (University of Southampton)

Professor Peter Smith (University of Southampton)

Dr Richard Kirby (University of Plymouth)

Dr David Ogden (Université Paris Descartes, France)

Dr Glen Wheeler (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) – Current research


Honorary Research Fellows


Dr Gerald Boalch (Marine Biological Association)

Dr Quentin Bone FRS (Marine Biological Association)

Professor Paul Dando (Marine Biological Association)

Prof. Robin Pingree (Marine Biological Association)

Professor Philip C. Reid (SAHFOS)

Dr Eve Southward (Marine Biological Association)

Professor Roddy Williamson (University of the West of Scotland, Glasgow)



Marine Biological Association founders 150 years old


150 years old. What do you think this MBA gathering of (mainly) gentlemen might make of the robotics revolution that is changing the way we gather information.





The Committee formed at the International Fisheries Exhibition 1883 resolved to take action to establish a British Marine Laboratory, an initiative that ultimately led to the formation of the Marine Biological Association and building of the Laboratory in Plymouth. They were:


Sir John Lubbock, MP (later Lord Avebury)

P. L. Sclater FRS, Secretary of the Zoological Society

F. Jeffrey Bell, Professor of Zoology at King's College London

Michael Foster FRS, Professor of Physiology at University of Cambridge

J. Burdon-Sanderson FRS, Professor of Physiology at University of Oxford

W. H. Flower FRS, Hunterian Professor, Royal College of Surgeons

G. J. Romanes FRS, Secretary of the Linnean Society

A. Sedgwick, Trinity College, Cambridge

H. N. Moseley, Linacre Professor of Anatomy at University of Oxford

A. Milnes Marshall, Professor of Zoology at University of Manchester

W. T. Thiselton-Dyer FRS, Assistant Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

W. B. Carpenter FRS

G. J. Allman FRS, Emeritus Professor of Natural History at University of Edinburgh

John Murray, Director of the Challenger Expedition Reports


The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom was formed at a meeting held in the rooms of the Royal Society in London on 31 March 1884. All but two of the signatories of the resolution of 1883 were present, together with some other scientists. By this time Professor Huxley had been persuaded to give his support and was elected as the first President of the Association, with Ray Lankester as Honorary Secretary.





The MBA is governed by a Council which is headed by a President. (See here for a list of current Council members: The MBA's Director is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Association.


Since 1884, the MBA has had fourteen Presidents:


T. H. Huxley (1884 to 1890)

Sir E. Ray Lankester (1890 to 1929)

Lord Moyne (1930 to 1939)

George Parker Bidder (1939 to 1945)

Sir James Gray (1945 to 1955)

A. V. Hill (1955 to 1960)

C. F. A. Pantin (1960 to 1966)

Sir Alan L. Hodgkin (1966 to 1976)

J. Z. Young (1976 to 1986)

James Lovelock (1986 to 1990)

Sir Crispin Tickell (1990 to 2001)

Sir Neil Chalmers (2002 to 2007)

Sir Howard Dalton (2007 to 2008)

Sir Geoffrey Holland (2008 to present)





There have been twelve directors of the Marine Biological Association since its foundation:


1884–1888: Walter Heape FRS

1888–1890: Gilbert C. Bourne FRS

1890–1892: William L. Calderwood

1892–1894: Edward J. Bles

1894–1936: Edgar J. Allen FRS

1936–1945: Stanley W. Kemp FRS

1945–1965: Sir Frederick S. Russell FRS

1965–1974: Sir J. Eric Smith FRS

1974–1987: Sir Eric J. Denton FRS

1987–1999: Michael Whitfield

1999–2007: Stephen J. Hawkins

2007–present: Colin Brownlee





The Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
The Laboratory
Citadel Hill
Devon, PL1 2PB

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 633207
Fax: +44 (0)1752 633102








The oceans are a source of sustainable food for humans, provided that we do not over-fish and take steps to keep the waters free of pollution, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which in turn causes climate change and acid rain. Dangerous as they might be to divers, the magnificent great white shark deserves another million years of clean seas to hunt in - and we deserve mercury and other toxin free shellfish for ourselves and our children's children.





Two new-generation long-endurance unmanned surface vehicles are about to enter production in the UK with confirmed orders for both vehicles, AutoNaut and C-Enduro.

The robots have been developed by Hampshire companies ASV and MOST (AV) in collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre at Southampton. 

Designs for the vehicles were originally chosen by a panel of scientific and technical experts prior to development in association with the NOC’s Marine Autonomous & Robotic Systems (MARS) team. They have since successfully undergone rigorous capability trials in Portsmouth Harbour and off the coast of Oban in Scotland.

The two prototypes have been designed and built as part of a government-backed Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) with the basic aim of developing ocean-going robotic vehicles capable of sustained marine research over long periods. Co-funding was provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

According to David Maclean, director of MOST (AV), a first order for a 3.5m AutoNaut has already been received from an organisation in the US. Meanwhile, the NOC itself plans to use both vehicles in a project off the UK in the autumn by way of demonstrating the ability of a network of surface, sub-surface and seabed autonomous systems to collect a wide variety of scientific data.



Scripps Memorial Marine Biological Laboratory San-Deigo Institution of Oceanography


Scripps Memorial Marine Biological Laboratory San-Deigo Institution of Oceanography





The Maritime and Autonomous Systems sub-group of the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Special Interest Group has been established to encourage networking around maritime applications of Robotics and Autonomous Systems. The UK's Marine industrial leaders are working with the Government to investigate whether a joint development of these systems would be worthwhile and practical. The work is supported by leading stakeholders, including MIA, the Knowledge Transfer Network and UK NEST.


MARS has three types of completely robotic submarines AUVs called Autosub. We have taken Autosub to many exotic areas, including Greenland and Antarctica, where it investigated the dark mysterious ice caverns under floating ice shelves, and the deep Caribbean, where it helped discover the world's deepest “black smoker” hydrothermal vent. The Autosub team have built up, over nearly 20 years, a worldwide reputation in the design, improvement and operations of these yellow submarines.

MARS also operates another type of AUV the glider. Gliders don’t have a conventional propeller, but ingeniously glide up and down through the ocean by pumping oil in and out of an external bladder to make them alternately rise and sink. We now have total of 11 gliders in the fleet.









Autonomous Surface Vehicles Ltd
Unit 6a, Trafalgar Wharf
Hamilton Road

Tel: 02392 382573
Fax: 02392 178718

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Wikipedia Marine_Biological_Association_of_the_United_Kingdom

Maritime Journal UK funded-ocean robot development

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Marine Link MBA Marine Biological Association fish tracking mission

Wikipedia Scottish_Association_for_Marine_Science

Marine Biological Association of India

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A humpback whale stikes a blow for anti whaling - The $Billion Dollar Whale movie


Blueplanet Universal is looking to turn the Kulo Luna story into a script for a major film release, along the lines of Free Willy, Saving Luna, Big Miracle and Dolphin Tale.












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