The Marine Science Station (MSS) was founded in mid 1970s. The main objectives of establishing the MSS were to create a marine research facility for scientist and post graduate students of the two Jordanian Universities that existed at that time; the University of Jordan and Yarmouk University, and to provide a haven for international scientists interested in studying the tropical-subtropical marine ecosystem. The Gulf of Aqaba with its unique characteristics provides an ideal oceanic model for such studies. All visiting researchers are individually warmly welcome by the director, researchers and the staff of the MSS. The present MSS campus is located at the beautiful eastern coast of the northernmost end of the Gulf of Aqaba, about 10 km south of Aqaba Town. The public aquarium of the station attracts thousands of school students, tourists, official visiting groups and Jordanian citizens. The MSS is in fact the Northern Gate of the Gulf of Aqaba Marine Park. Within its boundaries exist a wide variety of benthic habitats and communities, including rock and sandy beaches, seagrass beds, excellent back reef lagoon, and a well-developed coral reef complex comprised of numerous coral colonies and associated marine species. Due to the uniqueness and importance of these living communities, the MSS beaches and coral reef have been declared as the first Marine Nature Reserve in the Gulf of Aqaba, with access restricted except for scientists. Responsibilities of the MSS towards the two mother Universities, the local society and human knowledge have increased significantly with time. Research types and interest at the MSS have also developed remarkably. At the beginning, when the MSS was newly established, more monitoring, survey work and basic research took place. This at that time was both useful and necessary. The main outcome was defining baseline characteristics of the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba and in a broader since of the entire Gulf. In a second phase of progress the MSS concentrated on some applied aspects of coastal research. Development of mariculture technology of some economically valuable species, the suitability of these species to the conditions of the Gulf of Aqaba and the environmental constraints were the main focus. The main outcome of this line of research was that although some species proved suitable for mariculture in the Gulf of Aqaba at a commercial scale, the environmental threat of such venture would make it unfavorable. Consequently Jordan has decided strategically not to permit floating cage mariculture in the Jordanian waters. More recently the MSS has focused on ecosystem studies, particularly the coral reef ecosystem, to provide an integrated understanding of the ecosystem functioning that enables adopting suitable management schemes to optimize the benefits of the scares Jordanian coastal resources and yet preserve them for the future generations as a part of our valuable human heritage. In the capacity of the (MSS) as a research facility, It has lead and participated in several research projects funded by national and international sources.
One of the most important research projects was the International Red Sea Program (RSP), 1995-2000, funded by the German Government. The outcome of the RSP was not only good science and collaboration with international institutions during the age of the program, but also establishing firm and sustainable links with many of the institutions that participated in the program. Most profound is the MSS collaboration with the Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen (ZMT), where the secretariat of RSP existed. The MSS-ZMT collaboration is continuously increasing. Both institutions have succeeded to win jointly several projects after RSP. One of the recent projects that the MSS and ZMT are conducting is the environmentally friendly aquaculture of ornamentals and aquarium species, funded also by the German government, but this time in partnership with Jordan Universities, research funds and the private sector. The project has benefited from all previous experience in aquaculture research and adhered strongly to the strategic planning of conservation of the coral reef ecosystem. We are currently preparing several networking projects with International Universities and institutes, where the MSS will serve as a node in an International network of tropical marine research centers for the Middle East, Arabian Gulf and North Africa.