Institute of Marine Science

Institute of Marine Science

At the Institute of Marine Science, our marine scientists research coastal processes, environmental science, evolution, systematics and ecology, fisheries and aquaculture, oceanography, marine chemistry and marine geology.


Professor Simon Thrush, Director, Institute of Marine Science
Professor Simon Thrush

New Zealand has an extensive marine environment, more than twenty times larger than our land area, with 75% of our population living within 10km of the sea.

Marine ecosystems are central to our culture and spiritual wellbeing and provide many economic benefits.

Improving the stewardship of marine ecosystems and their biodiversity is important for our future, but remains a major challenge.

Our science and training must rise to this challenge by contributing to not only our understanding of how these ecosystems work and how they respond to change, but also how we as a society can develop better systems of governance and management.

The Institute of Marine Science draws on marine science expertise within the Schools of Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences and Environment, and the Departments of Physics, Statistics and Engineering Science – as well as businesses and organisations in New Zealand and overseas – to address those challenges.

We seek to understand how marine organisms sense and respond to their environment; the interactions between human activities and natural processes in the marine environment; the development of useful properties of marine organisms for human uses and how natural processes in the marine environment operate.

The Institute of Marine Science has an active and diverse programme of study. Our enrolments continue to grow, reflecting interest and the relevance of marine science. Students benefit from highly creative cross-disciplinary study options for our undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the Faculty of Science.

While most of our undergraduate teaching is conducted on the City Campus, we have field courses that use our excellent research facilities at the Leigh Marine Laboratory and our research vessel, Hawere.

For postgraduate students undertaking their research at the Leigh Marine Laboratory’s purpose-built facilities, there are great opportunities for collaborative and interdisciplinary work which help develop the necessary skills for our next generation of marine scientists.

Contributing to positive solutions to the pressing issues of global change, sustainable resource use, conservation and wise management is essential for our maritime city and country.

Enjoy your marine studies. We look forward to working with you.

Professor Simon Thrush

* Our subject is ranked in the top 100. According to the 2018 QS World University Rankings by subject, Earth and Marine Sciences at the University of Auckland is ranked 51-100 in the world. 



Contact us

If you need to contact us, you can do so by phone or email. If you have questions regarding enrolment, please contact or visit the Science Student Centre.

Find the full contact and location details for the Institute of Marine Science, the Leigh Marine Laboratory and Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre here.

Collaborations and associations

The Institute of Marine Science collaborates with a broad range of private businesses as well as government and research organisations in New Zealand and overseas.

It also draws on expertise from various departments within the University.

Find out more.

Leigh Marine Laboratory

Infographic: Map of New Zealand with Goat Island Marine Researve highlighted

The Institute of Marine Science is situated in a prime South Pacific location at Leigh Marine reserve and is New Zealand's first marine reserve with the best accessibility to sub-tropical study sites in New Zealand.

The location of the Leigh Marine reserve offers students unique advantages such as marine access in almost all weathers, the benefit of a nearby large urban centre and access to the full resources of New Zealand's largest university.

For postgraduate students, the laboratory offers a close-knit and vibrant research community and the opportunity to live on-site while researching and writing research projects.

Find out more about Leigh Marine Laboratory including information for visiting academics.

Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre

Marea Goode presenting the Feed the Fish and Invertebrate session at the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre

The centre aims to communicate the work of the institute to public visitors. It runs education experiences for school children on marine science and conservation of our oceans. Centre facilities can also be booked for group visits.

Find out more.

The Joint Graduate School in Coastal and Marine Science

The University of Auckland and National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) have joined forces to form the Joint Graduate School in Coastal and Marine Science with the specific purpose to build New Zealand’s research expertise on these critical issues.

The partnership maximises the university's strengths in coastal science and marine ecology and NIWA’s complementary expertise in oceanography and modelling.

The Joint Graduate School provides the unique opportunity to undertake postgraduate research across a range of coastal and marine topics alongside New Zealand’s leading scientists. Find out more.