When it comes to sixth formers looking into a university’s facilities, Plymouth’s new Marine Station will be hard to beat. Located between the National Marine Aquarium and Queen Anne Battery, the £4.85 million development combines a waterfront teaching facility with a boathouse and crane, a compressor room for filling diving air cylinders, and drying rooms.
A dozen staff, among them the academic diving team, boat skippers and technical and support staff, are based at the Station. Teaching facilities include a ‘wet lab’, where up to 50 students can study samples collected from Plymouth Sound. There is also an aquarium with continuous fresh seawater, giving students a place to store samples.
“Our students can now experience a unique dual perspective,” says marine scientist Dr Alex Nimmo-Smith. “They can go from looking at a sample under a microscope to considering where it has come from, and its relationship with its environment, with just a turn of the head. The shore-side base will enhance our work with students in the field. We’ve gone from having two small classrooms and cabins at the Diving and Marine Centre, in what might fairly be described as a ‘1950s monstrosity’, to something which simply changes the game in terms of what we can do with our students. Our new Marine Station provides us with the capacity to do a wide range of teaching and research in addition to continuing our professional diver training.”