The Marine Resources Center was designed for versatility and efficiency to maximize the health and longevity of the marine organisms that are the lifeblood of research at the MBL. Keeping aquatic organisms alive and available to scientists year-round is crucial to research at the MBL and to MBL’s convening power.

To ensure reliability and to safeguard organisms being cultured or maintained in the MRC, all incoming seawater supply lines, filtration systems, and treated-water heat exchangers are redundant. All pumps, temperature sensors, and the ozone distribution system are alarmed and under computer control. Water temperatures are continuously monitored and adjusted every 4 seconds by computer to ensure a temperature stability of 0.5oC. The system is also remotely accessible and is backed up by staff on call 24 hours a day. Any failure in the system is immediately detected and, because of the system’s redundancies, is rapidly corrected to ensure no major losses of organisms. The entire system is supported by routine security checks as well as an emergency 500-kW generator.

The MRC’s ground floor houses a variety of healthy organisms in seawater tanks, as well as a procedures room for handling, examining, and preparing marine organisms. A large portion of the floor space is available to scientists conducting individual research projects.

The second floor contains offices, a classroom, as well as dry and wet laboratories. In-house veterinary services are provided by the MBL veterinarian. The floor includes a research holding room for injured or diseased organisms, a necropsy room, and a water quality/chemistry laboratory.

The third floor contains the mechanical equipment that is crucial to the life support systems of the MRC plus additional laboratory space and offices.

The Marine Resources Center and its staff enable MBL Scientists to:

  • conduct research on marine organisms, in projects that include sensory and behavioral neurobiology, environmental toxicology, reproductive biology, regenerative biology, and embryology;
  • have access to field-collected marine organisms for use in research and education;
  • conduct basic research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of diseases affecting marine animals, as models for human conditions; and
  • develop educational programs to expand the use of marine laboratory organisms within the scientific research and educational communities.

As required by NIH guidelines, all research involving the use of vertebrate animals (mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish and fertile vertebrate eggs) and their parasites must have a protocol approved by the MBL Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before the research can begin. Click here to learn more about the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

MRC Access
Access to the facility is provided via the MBL ID Card system. This access is a special privilege for those using the facilities: it is not automatically provided to the general MBL community with the MBL Card. After-hours access may be granted to MBL card holders who have been assigned research or tank space in the MRC. Those will occasional access needs should contact the MBL watch staff at extension 7217.

The building is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. during weekdays, and the Tank Room is open from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Access after hours is provided through the MBL ID Card to authorized users only – please contact Lisa Abbo, Director of the Marine Resources Department, for privileged access at 508.289.7522 or

When entering the front door or tank room door after hours, do not let anyone else in unless you are absolutely certain they work at and have authorization (via their MBL ID Card) to enter the Marine Resources Center. Course students will be let in by the course instructor for after hours classes. Do not compromise the security of the building, or your own safety, by letting “tailgaters” in.

To enhance personal security when you are working alone in your lab or office at night or on weekends, make a point of making yourself known to others who are also working in the building.

Those who require an interior key to an office or lab will be assigned a key by the Manager of the MRD. Do not lend this key to anyone or have it replicated. Each key is numbered and assigned on an individual basis and must be returned upon leaving for the summer or departing the MBL.

Kitchen Use
Two kitchens are available for the use by personnel in the building. These areas are for eating, drinking, and socializing. A fundamental principle of lab safety is to avoid the use of chemicals in any area where food is prepared or consumed. Please refrain from using the kitchens for ANY research activities, even activities that may seem harmless. Our kitchens are closely monitored to ensure compliance with this policy.

Using Aquatic Facilities
Both the first floor Tank Room and the second floor Mariculture Room have special lighting procedures for night-time use. If you will be utilizing these facilities during evening hours, please contact Lisa Abbo, Director of the Marine Resources Department, at 508.289.7522 or for a briefing on night-lighting procedures.

Each user of the facility must provide for their own needs. Do not touch, alter, borrow or otherwise interfere with anything, including organisms, tools, equipment, supplies, or anything related to other areas within the facility.

Check your tank(s) and animals daily to ensure their good health, unless you have made specific arrangements with MRD staff to check them for you. Do not alter tank arrangements or water flow to any tank including your own if there is potential to affect other research areas in series with yours.

Many of you enjoy coming to the first floor tank room to view the variety of live marine animals in our facility. We always encourage this activity but ask you to please honor the following guidelines when you visit:

1. Restrict your visit to the front section of the tank room (do not venture beyond the large oval squid tanks) and do not put your hands in the water or adjust any water lines. In particular, please do not enter the distant 2/3 of the tank room because these are active research projects and those animals should not be disturbed. We have placed yellow cones as reminders not to enter these areas, and we ask that you please honor this limitation.

2. The MBL Communications Office runs daily tours in the summer and these include the Marine Resources Center. This is a well organized and worthwhile experience and we encourage you to call the Communications Office (x7423) to participate in a tour, or to schedule one for your group.

3. If you are interested in seeing more details of the MRD seawater systems, or knowing more about the aquatic research projects, please contact Lisa Abbo, Director of the Marine Resources Department, at 508.289.7522 or