SAMS news room

Minister opens SAMS' Ocean Explorer Centre - officially

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP, yesterday joined the celebrations of the opening of the Ocean Explorer Centre in Oban, the exciting visitor and outreach facility of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).

The Ocean Explorer Centre is a place of ‘edutainment’: visitors learn about the marine environment and the important research going on at SAMS in a range of engaging, hands-on displays and events. An indoor tourist attraction with associated café in the summer, the Ocean Explorer Centre works to inspire and engage children, locals and special interest groups for the rest of the year.

"We want our visitors to gain greater awareness that we live on an amazing blue planet dominated by oceans that we must manage with greater care and understanding," explained Dr Anuschka Miller, who directs the new facility.

SAMS Director Professor Laurence Mee highlighted the uniqueness of the Ocean Explorer Centre: "There are very few places were people of all ages can learn the results of up-to-date research on the sea in a way that is so accessible and engaging to all. The Ocean Explorer Centre blends the advantages of a science centre and a visitor centre and visitors can explore what it means to do marine research and engage with science projects delivered now and here."

Highlands and Islands Enterprise were early funders of the Ocean Explorer Centre. Rachael McCormack, HIE’s Strengthening Communities Director, joined a stakeholder discussion panel as part of the opening event and said: "The continued growth of marine science activity at Dunstaffnage is a key driver for the local and regional economy.  The Ocean Explorer Centre will be a great platform for communicating and interpreting marine science for our local communities, visitors and schools throughout the area. This will in turn raise the profile of the sector and highlight the many and varied career options within this sector to current and future generations of school children."

The new Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, Professor Clive Mulholland, also joined the celebrations during his first visit to SAMS, one of the 13 partner institutions making up the university. Professor Mulholland only arrived at the university at the start of the month and is making time to visit each partner institution to introduce himself to staff and students. Professor Mulholland, who was a deputy vice-chancellor at the University of South Wales before joining the university, will take the opportunity to spend time with Cabinet Secretary Russell to discuss the future of education in Scotland.

The development of the Ocean Explorer Centre was funded fully by charitable donations provided by the Robertson Trust, the University of the Highlands and Islands Development Trust, Sir Hugh and Lady Stevenson, the Steel Charitable Trust, the Oban Common Good Fund, the Hugh Fraser Foundation, the Fishmongers’ Company, the Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, and the Susan H Guy’s Charitable Trust.

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