Mission Statement

The Marine Laboratory is a campus of Duke University and a unit within the Nicholas School of the Environment. The mission is education, research, and service to understand marine systems, including the human component, and to develop approaches for marine conservation and restoration.

Programs at the Marine Laboratory are central to the Nicholas School of the Environment's mission to provide interdisciplinary educational and research opportunities addressing an area of vital concern--the quality of the Earth's environment and the sustainable use of its natural resources. Oceans dominate the Earth's surface and greatly affect daily life. Oceans regulate climate, play a critical role in the hydrologic cycle, sustain a large portion of the Earth's plant and animal species, supply food and mineral resources, and inspire the aesthetic nature of humankind. Ocean studies are central to the resolution of global environmental problems related to the impacts of humans on ecological systems, biodiversity, climate change, coastal land management, environmental quality, and environmental health.

During the 1930s, Dr. A.S. Pearse and colleagues from Duke University were attracted to Pivers Island and its surrounding abundance of marine life for their summer field studies. The island afforded an excellent location for a field station and through the subsequent efforts of Dr. Pearse and others, the land was acquired for the Duke University Marine Laboratory. By 1938 the first buildings were erected. Originally, the laboratory served only as a summer training and research facility.

Today, the Marine Laboratory operates year-round to provide educational, training, and research opportunities to about 3,500 persons annually, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled in the university's academic programs; visiting student groups who use the laboratory's facilities; and scientists who come from North America and abroad to conduct their own research. A seminar/lecture series features many distinguished scientific speakers from across the nation and abroad.

The resident faculty represent the disciplines of oceanography, marine biology, marine biomedicine, marine biotechnology, and coastal marine policy and management.

The Marine Laboratory is a member of the National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML), a nonprofit organization of over 90 members providing a variety of academic, research, and public service programs. These laboratories are unique "windows on the sea," providing information on the rich environmental mosaic of coastal habitats where land meets sea. Their "sense of place" encourages wise local land management and protection of our precious natural resources.