The Department of Marine Science was established in 1992 and has grown
rapidly to be a multidisciplinary department that focuses
on postgraduate teaching and pure and applied research in marine
science and aquaculture. It has close ties with other departments
on campus, with government departments, crown research institutes
and industry. There are presently 9 full and part time academic
staff, 21 full and part time general staff and approximately 50
postgraduate students in the Department. Staff and students of the
Department conduct research throughout the South Island of New Zealand
including Marlborough Sounds, Otago Harbour, Stewart Island and
Most of our courses are taught from our campus base at the University,
while the main laboratory is the Portobello Marine Laboratory situated
on Otago Harbour 20km from the University. Laboratories for some
courses are held at Portobello and many graduate students and staff
do their research there. The University's public marine education
program, which includes the NZ Marine Studies Centre and aquarium,
is also situated on the Portobello peninsula next to the Marine
Lab. The department operates a number of vessels, the largest of
which is the 21m Polaris II. The Polaris II is based
at Port Chalmers in the Harbour opposite Portobello.
Marine Science, established in 1992, is the most recent science
department at the University of Otago. The historical roots of the
department extend back to the appointment of Captain F.W. Hutton,
previously Otago provincial geologist, as Professor of Natural Science
in 1876. Even before Hutton, the transactions of the New Zealand
Institute published several papers on marine topics by Dunedin authors.
The development of marine science at Otago was closely intertwined
with the development of the Portobello Marine Laboratory, formerly
a fish hatchery and marine investigation station, which was administatively
independent for nearly 50 years until it was taken over by the University
of Otago in 1951.
Hutton, formerly the Otago provincial geologist, appointed Professor
of Natural History and Curator of the University Museum.
||T.J. Parker invited to
become Professor of Biology and Curator of the Museum at Otago,
upon the resignation of Hutton.
||Professor Parker, in his
Presidential Address to the Otago Institute, makes a case for
the establishment of a marine laboratory in New Zealand. Parker
in 1891 again made reference to the advisability of a marine
laboratory in an address to the AAAS, Christchurch.
||Idea of a marine laboratory
taken up and energetically promoted by G.M. Thomson with assessment
of Purakanui as a suitable site.
||Publication by Parker,
together with Professor W.A. Haswell (Sydney), of their two-volume
work, A Textbook of Zoology, including many local marine animals
as type examples.
||W. B. Benham appointed
to succeed Parker as Professor of Biology and Museum Curator.
||Lake Falconer Ayson, chief
fisheries advisor, recommends favourably on the marine laboratory/fish
hatchery proposal after visits to Europe and North America.
||Site chosen and land set
aside by government for a fish hatchery at Purakanui.
||Purakanui site considered
unsuitable, plans switched to present Portobello site.
||Construction begun, financed
by government subsidy of funds raised by Otago Institute and
Otago Acclimatisation Society (and other sister societies).
||Opening of Fish Hatchery
and Marine Investigation Station, Thomas Anderton appointed
curator, major effort put into raising exotic species seen to
have commercial potential, especially Atlantic lobsters, edible
crabs, turbot, etc.
||Death of Thomas Anderton,
work continued by his assistant Wallace Adams.
||Drift bottle release programme
||Maxwell Young appointed
as biological research student, first "scientific"
||Hatchery work abandoned
after death of final batch of lobsters, future work to be focussed
on fisheries investigation and compliance.
||David Graham appointed
as scientist, initiates public education programme by charging
for weekend lectures and admission.
||Graham dismissed as his
salary could no longer be met in a depression economy.
||Death of the Hon. G.M.
Thomson, to whose energy the establishment of the station was
due and who had chaired the board of control since the beginning.
||Government inquiry into
the future of fisheries management recommends closure of the
Fishery Investigation Station. University of Otago declines
to take the station over as a gift, offering instead to contribute
£ 50 per year for continued access by staff and students.
||University of Otago negotiates
to take over the fishery investigation station, having been
persuaded by Professor John Eccles of the merits of having a
marine station , especially for experimental neurophysiology.
||University of Otago takes
over site as Portobello Marine Biological Station with Dr Elizabeth
Batham as Director.
||Original laboratory building
replaced by two-story structure.
||Award of a lottery grant
0f £ 45,000 for the construction of a research vessel
and to operate it for an initial five year period.
||RV Munida launched at
Lyttelton, delivery voyage to Dunedin prior to fitting out.
||RV Munida entered service
in mid-year with Mr Bill Tubman as skipper.
||Two joint lectureships
established between Marine Station and Zoology, following the
appointment of Professor Roy Freeman as head of Zoology. Drs
John Jillett and Barbara Williams appointed to these posts.
||Review committee set up
to recommend on the future of the research vessel, the Marine
Station and its relationship to the University as a whole.
||Review Committee recommends
expansion of the Marine Station "without delay".
||Dr Betty Batham steps
aside after 23 years as Director, later disappears in mysterious
circumstances at Wellington.
||Dr John Jillett appointed
Director of the renamed Portobello Marine Laboratory and vacated
joint-appointment filled by Dr Charles Boyden. Otago staff and
postgraduate students studying for Otago degrees take up all
||A round of "deferred
maintenance" and minor extensions, in lieu of deferred
major expansion. Permission is given to proceed to sketch plans
for new buildings.
||Sketch plans submitted.
Charles Boyden accidentally drowns.
||Dr Mike Barker appointed
to joint lectureship, filled temporarily by Dr Geoff Hicks.
Dr Keith Hunter appointed to a lectureship in Chemistry.
||ntroduction of a MSc in
Marine Science with John Jillett as course director, contributions
from a wide range of science departments (Botany, Chemistry,
Geology, Microbiology, Physics, Surveying and Zoology).
||Permission given for preparation
of working drawings for new laboratory.
||Contract let for the construction
of the new laboratory. All on-going research work at the Marine
Laboratory severely disrupted for the next three years.
||Bill Tubman retires as
skipper of the research vessel, replaced by Chris Spiers.
||New laboratory building
commissioned at Portobello, equipment grant of $ 1.83 M awarded.
Proposal initiated for a "Maritime Study Centre" on-site
||Research vessel refitted
||Professor Philip Mladenov
appointed to newly established Chair of Marine Science to include
the MSc course in Marine Science. Fiordland becomes a major
target for research work.
||NZ Marine Study Centre
is adopted as the science project for major fund-raising.
||Establishment of the Department
of Marine Science with its administrative base on main campus.
||Provision of more adequate
main-campus base for the Department of Marine Science.
||Establishment of NIWA/Chemistry
Centre of Excellence for Physical and Chemical Oceanography.
||Contracts let for construction
of the Marine Studies Centre.
||Dr Mike Barker appointed
Head of Department
||Marine Science Prizes
established: John Jillett Prize in Marine Science; Beryl Brewin
Prize in Marine Science; and Elizabeth Batham Prize in Marine
||Chris Spiers retires as
skipper of the research vessel, replaced by Bill Dickson.
||A new research vessel
, Polaris II, purchased
||Dr Keith Probert appointed Head of Department
||Dr Rebecca McLeod - McDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year
||Professor Gary Wilson appointed Head of Department
||Associate Professor Abby Smith appointed Head of Department