A research facility located quarter-mile (0.5 km) north of the village of Dunbeg (Argyll and Bute) on the shores of Dunstaffnage Bay, the Scottish Marine Institute is home to the Scottish Association for Marine Science. Formerly known as the Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, this is a world-class research facility which is owned by the association and operated in conjunction with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The laboratory is a partner in the federated University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), hosting undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. It runs research ships, which operate around the globe, and is involved in a range of projects in marine science, biodiversity, climate change and human impact on the marine environment.
The Scottish Association for Marine Science was founded in 1884, as the Scottish Marine Station, by oceanographer Sir John Murray (1841 - 1914) who had been a member of the Challenger Expedition (1872 - 76), the first to explore the world's oceans. The first laboratory was in Granton (Edinburgh), but moved to Millport on Great Cumbrae in 1894 sharing a site with the University Marine Biological Station. Becoming the Scottish Marine Biological Association in 1914, the organisation moved to Dunstaffnage between 1967 and 1970, occupying the site of a former military based. In 1993, the organisation changed its name once again to the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS).
The Institute employs more than 160 scientists and support staff and has an annual turnover exceeding £3 million. The Dunstaffnage facility was greatly extended in 2002.