Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)

Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS)

Research Infrastructure affiliation: EMBRC

Location: Oban, Scotland

Website address:

Local Access Officer:  Christine Campbell (



This infrastructure is part of the UK Node of EMBRC. The installation at SAMS comprises a campus with teaching infrastructure; research laboratories; indoor and outdoor aquaria; the  Culture Collection for Alga and Protozoa (CCAP); the Scottish Marine Robotics Facility (SMRF); a fleet of inshore research vessels (rib to 20m solid hull platform); along with administration and supporting technical expertise. Science at SAMS is organized into three cross-cutting research Areas: Blue Economy (aquaculture, marine biotechnology, energy from the ocean and fisheries); Changing Coasts (climate change, habitat management and conservation, people and the sea and industrial impacts) and Ocean Processes (ocean currents, biogeochemistry, ecosystem function and Arctic seas). Access to Ecosystems: i) sheltered fjordic systems, with restricted water exchange and subject to deep-water oxygen depletion; ii) ‘clean’ offshore coastal waters, within the continental shelf; iii) benthic systems accessible though underwater photography, grab, core and precise scuba sampling; and iv) rocky shore and sandy beach systems..  Access to biological resources includes algae and protozoa (including cyanobacteria;; macroalgae (including Ectocarpus), but also through our unique ‘Seaweed Farm’; benthic macro and mega fauna (preserved and archived samples from across the globe); vertebrate fish otoliths and gonads (northeast Atlantic).


Access to research platforms, managing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, are organized into service units operating across the institution.  Research vessels: two hard hulled and supporting rigid inflatable boats with a comprehensive range of pelagic and benthic sampling (e.g. nets, grabs and corers) and non-invasive (e.g. CTD and fluorescence, side scan sonar, ADCP) equipment.  Unmanned Vehicle Fleet: Seagliders 1K, Remus 600 AUV, Mojave ROV, Gavia Offshore Surveyor AUV and remotely piloted aircraft providing capabilities in surface and sub-surface habitats, ecosystems and water column surveys (coastal or offshore).   Aquaria: indoor and outdoor, temperature and light control systems; capacity for dosing and monitoring; establishment license held for experimentation on marine vertebrates (subject to additional controls).   Microbial and Molecular Biology: laboratories and expertise enabling culturing, sequencing and microscopy (including confocal and SEM) and flow cytometry.  We can also provide user-access to a range of temperature-controlled environments.   All platform access units can provide training for equipment and techniques.


SAMS provides immediate access to a wide range of intertidal and subtidal environments such as shallow sand beaches, rock coastline, seagrass beds, and soft muds. In microbiology, staff provide expert taxonomic advice for identification of microscopic organisms and the CCAP can offer remote access (RA) to all the strains on its website ( Specimens can be shipped anywhere across Europe; whilst new strains can be assimilated into the collection, contribution to living archives. 

Support offered

TA-users have access to lab-space, to standard disposables and administrative and logistic support and to the services in the units listed above, as agreed upon in a user-access. Service staff will provide training in the use of the platforms where necessary and assist with troubleshooting. Other amenities include in-house lunch restaurants. Neither installation provides lodging, but restaurants, hotels and B&Bs are nearby. Administration assists with lodging reservations. Users can attend the weekly seminars, and are invited to present one to foster engagement and future collaborations with installation personnel and students. This support to external visitors is standard operational procedure.