What sort of research do we do?
Since opening in 1998, the National Marine Aquarium has hosted over 120 research projects. The majority of these projects are animal-husbandry based (e.g. nutrition, animal behaviour, water quality analysis), reflecting our interests in keeping our animals in the best possible conditions. Research interests, however have evolved and expanded over the years and now encompass a range of additional topics, including:
- public attitudes to marine issues/sustainability
- the impacts of informal learning programmes
- aquariums and human health
- citizen science
- ocean literacy
Most of our research efforts have been focused on conservation but as the Aquarium has developed so have our ambitions. We have a Lead Researcher, Deborah who carries out her own studies but also supervises and facilitates university projects, from undergraduate through to doctoral.
So what is our Lead Researcher working on at the moment?
Studies suggest that spending time in, or even simply viewing, natural environments, can provide significant physical and mental health benefits (e.g. improved mood, reduced stress levels), particularly when compared to urban settings. Building on previous research, a series of studies is being conducted that explores the effects of aquarium exhibits on human health and well-being. Preliminary findings suggest that:
- *mood can improve and heart rate may decrease significantly when viewing a live aquarium exhibit
- people have preferences for different types of exhibit and these preferences can influence their well-being
- health outcomes can be affected by the number and type of animals present in an exhibit
The full article: Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being