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The first courses in marine biology on Tjärnö started in 1963. Previously Göteborg and Stockholm Universities carried on courses in marine biology at the Gullmar fjord. The risk for sea bottom damage by intensive dredging in the Gullmar fjord was the main reason to move to an alternative site. Tjärnö was chosen by an official commission as the best alternative for establishment of a new marine field station. The Swedish Government made the decision. The choice was apt; the Koster fjord is a unique marine environment, of interest for biologists in centuries. In 1960 Tjärnö was connected to the mainland through a number of bridges. Furuhöjds pensionat (guest-house) on the west shore of Tjärnö, in the sheltered Saltpanne bay, was for sale. Tjärnö marinzoologiska station (Tjärnö Marine Zoological Station) became the name on the field station.

Lars Afzelius

Lars Afzelius was active at the field station 1963-2001, and its dynamic director 1974-99

Göteborg University rented the Guest House building during 1963 and 1964 summers for two month-long courses. Students and teachers stayed, cooked and ate, had lectures and laborations in the guest-house. To collect marine organisms, the trawler Virgo was rented and later on bought.

The buildings (Guest House with three Annexes and Villan) with surrounding land was bought in 1965 by the governmental real estate owner Kungliga Byggnadsstyrelsen, which was reconstructed to Akademiska Hus AB in 1993.

Stockholm University held the first university courses on Tjärnö in 1965, and since then Göteborg and Stockholm Universities are authorities for the field station.

In 1969 came the first version of the Education Building, not as long, high and wide as the present building. The first version of the Work-shop was built in 1976.

Until 1974 the professor in zoology at Göteborg University was also formal director of Tjärnö. During these years four different professors administered the field station at a distance. In practice each course-leader was in charge of daily work. In 1974 Lars Afzelius was appointed director. Since 1963 he had taught at Tjärnö university courses, he owned a house close to the station and had devotion and ability to expand the field station. During his directorship (1974-99) the activities increased and broadened, and the laboratory became a attractive place of work all the year round.

In the 1970'ies the name was changed from Tjärnö marinzoologiska station (Tjärnö Marine Zoological Station) to Tjärnö marinbiologiska laboratorium (Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory).

Research at the laboratory was initially restricted to shorter field work visits. In mid-1970'ies more and more PhD students chose to work on Tjärnö during longer and longer periods, and gradually on a permanent basis. Research has since then increased year by year to be an activity larger than education.

In 1982 His Majesty the King Carl XVI Gustaf inaugurated Red Residence building, Boat-house, Restaurant and Residence House. From now on the Guest House was mainly used for exhibition purposes. The newly built research vessel Doris was bought in 1982. Virgo was replaced with the larger vessel Nereus. The Education Building was broadened and got a third story in 1984.

In the enlarged Education Building some 20 tanks were made into an aquarium hall in 1985, for the study by university students as well as the general public. The Guest House exhibition and the aquarium hall made it possible to develop public information activities, with pupils, tourists and general public as target groups.

The Work-shop was increased with a scuba diving department in 1986. The southernmost part of the Education Building, with entrance hall and auditorium, was built in 1989. A concrete jetty was built in 1990.

In 1992 there were enlargements of the Work-shop, Restaurant and Education Building, and the White Laboratory was built. The Education Building was further enlarged, eastwards, in 1994. The Guest House was demolished in 1995, giving place for the White Residence, which was inaugurated in 1996.

Owing to illness Lars Afzelius resigned his directorship in 1999, and passed away two years later. Kerstin Johannesson, who had been working on the laboratory since early 1980'ies, succeeded him.

In the year of 2000 parts of the Education Building bottom floor was renovated and made into a new department for public information, for instance with a new aquarium hall. In the same year larger and more reliable saltwater pipes was put out on the sea floor. The Pump House was replace with a larger, also with heat pumps using sea water as energy source to heat the premises. In 2002 the Work-shop building was enlarged, also providing office rooms for scientists. In the same year the research vessel Lophelia was bought. Yellow Laboratory with adherent deck area was built in 2003.

The last building from the guest-house era - Villan - was demolished to give place to Lars Afzelius' Laboratory. At the same time a store building was raised and parts of two lower stories in Education Building were renovated. Lars Afzelius' Laboratory was inaugurated by Her Majesty the Crown Princess Victoria in June, 2004.


Last updated June 11, 2004 by Martin Larsvik