In its 120th year the UK’s oldest oceanographic organisation, The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), a NERC Collaborative Centre, moved into a new £12 Million laboratory complex constructed at the same scenic site as its previous 1960s institute at Dunstaffnage near Oban.
HRH The Princess Royal conducted the official opening ceremony on Tuesday 6 April 2004 after touring the laboratory and talking to representatives of the biological, physical, geochemical and microbiological research groups at SAMS about their research. HRH also talked to several national and international students about studying at SAMS, which is an Academic Partner in UHI Millennium Institute. 120 guests from academia, government, the environment sector and industry witnessed the opening.
Energy saving features such as glass and cedar wood feature dominantly in the new laboratory building, which was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, SAMS, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and NERC.
This is the fourth home of the Association, which had begun life onboard the Ark, a converted lighter, prior to building its first land-based laboratory in 1897 at Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae. The Association remained in Millport until the late 1960s, when the decision was taken to relocate to Dunstaffnage.
Recently SAMS took over a second smaller site at Ardtoe, Arnamurchan from the Sea Fish Industry Authority.
In the past few years SAMS has been developing a strong portfolio in Northern Seas and Arctic research. Fittingly, the new SAMS conference room was therefore dedicated to William Speirs Bruce (1867–1921), Scotland’s most important polar explorer, who had undertaken 13 successful polar research expeditions to both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert made the dedication on the day that coincided with the 25th anniversary of his reaching the North Pole while crossing the Arctic Ocean on foot.