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History and Present Time

The history of MMBI dates from 1881 when the first Russian marine biological station was founded on the Solovetsky Islands of the White Sea by the Saint-Petersburg Naturalists Society. The station played an exceptionally important role not only in studying an unexplored nature of the White Sea but also in developing the natural science. That was the time which laid the foundation for the national hydrobiologic science that later gave a number of outstanding scientists to Russia and the world.

In 1899, the biologic station was transferred to the town of Alexandrovsk (Poliarny at present) founded that very year as a sea port in Ekaterininskaya Harbor of Kola Fjord (Barents Sea). Soon the station became well-known not only in Russia but also abroad. It was much bigger than that on the Solovetsky Islands. It housed tanks with running seawater and was equipped with all the necessary equipment to work not only in Kola Fjord but also in the neighboring areas of the Murman coast. Besides, the station possessed a splendid library and a museum exhibiting all representatives of the Kola Fjord fauna. In 1902, the station was renamed Murman Biological Station (MBS). In 1903, MBS purchased its first research vessel, a half-decked boat Orka, and in 1908 the schooner Alexander Kovalevsky. The outstanding role in the formation of the Murman Biological Station belongs to professors K.M. Deryugin and G.A. Kluge. G. Kluge was at the head of the Station continuously from 1908 until 1933. In the early 1920s, academician V.I. Vernadsky worked at the Station. From 1923 until the time when the Station was closed down, physiologist E.M. Kreps worked there in the physiology laboratory, which he himself had established.

In 1929, the Government of the USSR chose Ekaterininskaya Harbor for a naval station of the Northern Fleet. Murman Biologic Station was united with the Floating Marine Research Institute. That decision put an end to the existence of the Station as an independent institution. When the Station was closed down, Russian scientists no longer had a base to carry out experimental research and field observations. That had a negative effect on the development of fundamental hydrobiological science. In 1933, academician L.A. Orbeli raised the question of foundation of a new biological station on the Barents Sea coast. In 1934, the expedition headed by Professor E.M. Kreps chose the site for building a new biological station on the Dalnie Zelentsy Bay coast (eastern Murman coast, Kola Peninsula). In 1935, Professor K.M. Deryugin petitioned the Government of the USSR for a new biological station.

In March, 1935, the Government of the USSR passed decree No. 501-50 to establish a new biological station of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Academician S.A. Zernov was appointed director of the station. In 1938, the station was united with the Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR to be reestablished again as an independent institution in 1943. From 1939 till 1946 the Station was headed by M.S. Zernov. During World War II the Station was evacuated (1941-1944) to Udmurtia and later to the Middle Asia. After the War (1947-1953) Professor V.V. Kuznetsov headed the Station. That time the Station owned three motor and sailing boats used by its scientists for in situ observations in bays of the East Murman and in the open sea.

In 1953, the Station was integrated into the Kola Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (since 1989 – Kola Science Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences). The greatest role in reorganization of the biological station into Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (it officially happened in April 18, 1958) belongs to Professor M.M. Kamshilov who was its director in 1953-1963. That was very fruitful period in the history of MMBI. Its scientific activity was substantially intensified, the staff was enlarged, its fleet got new research vessels, and its research became more complex and systematic.

In 1964-1972 and 1972-1980 MMBI was headed by Doctor of Biology Yu.I. Galkin and Doctor of Biology Professor I.B. Tokin respectively. In the 1970s, electron-microscopic studies of marine organisms began.

Since 1981 up to the present, MMBI has been headed by Professor G.G. Matishov (full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences). In the late 1980s and early 1990s the rhythm of MMBI scientific activities intensified and the scope of researches expanded. Many young specialists, mainly from the Leningrad State University and Moscow State University, came to work at the Institute.

In the late 1980s, continuing traditional studies on cellular, tissue, organism and population levels, MMBI started to introduce computer technologies into its biologic and oceanographic research. Since the beginning of 1990s MMBI intensified its efforts in developing theoretic basis for aquaculture science and rational exploitation of marine living resources. In the mid-1980s MMBI started ornithological and radio-ecological research, and studies on marine mammals (including those on request from the Russian Navy).

In 1989, Murmansk Marine Biological Institute was moved to the city of Murmansk. MMBI base at Dalnie Zelentsy was transformed into an experimental station for in situ biologic observations and still continues to be maintained and used for research purposes. In the beginning of 1990s MMBI initiated the building of a science center for marine mammals training, husbandry and research in the city of Murmansk. Murmansk Oceanarium, first in the North of Russia, was opened in 1992. Nowadays it’s an experimental base for studies on physiology, ethology and zoo-psychology of marine mammals.

In 1998, the MMBI Division of Oceanography and Biology of the Southern Seas of Russia was established in the city of Rostov-on-Don. In 2001, it was transformed into the Azov Branch of MMBI.

In the 1990s MMBI experience in complex marine research in the Arctic opened new opportunities for the Institute in the sphere of environmental impact assessments and other kinds of environmental appraisal of economic projects on exploitation of marine resources, including oil and gas offshore projects. This work has given good reasons for cooperation with Gazprom, Rosshelf, Lukoil and other Russian oil companies.

Nowadays MMBI continues conducting complex ecosystem monitoring of the Arctic seas, searching into fundamental problems of biological diversity, forming of biological productivity of the continental shelf, and adaptation of marine animals and plants to climate change and man-caused influence.

MMBI closely cooperates with the higher education. In the 1990s MMBI initiated establishment of two departments on biology and geography at the Murmansk State Technical University and the Murmansk State Pedagogical University. Students and post-graduates have their practice at MMBI research stations. Each year MMBI holds seminars and conferences for students and post-graduates.