In the second half of the 19th century, the first marine stations were built. It was no longer a question of collecting marine organisms and bringing them back to the laboratories of big cities to study them, but of building laboratories by the sea so that scientists could work on organisms in their natural habitat.

In the early 1880s, after having founded the marine station of Roscoff on the Channel, the zoologist of the Sorbonne, Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers, decided to explore the Mediterranean coast to establish a second station. The rocky coast near Spain offered a great diversity of habitats and organisms, and Lacaze-Duthiers was seduced by the Banyuls site to build this new laboratory. The laboratory was founded in 1881, but it was not until 1882 that the "Arago Laboratory" opened its doors to its present location with laboratories, offices, a library and a local boat that was rented for sea excursions. The public aquarium was inaugurated around 1884-85 and the first students arrived shortly afterwards.

Since its creation, the main missions of the "Arago laboratory" have been to train future generations of scientists, conduct research and enable the general public to discover the marine world. The laboratory also hosted scientists and celebrities from around the world. In the early 1890s, Prince Roland Bonaparte (botanist, geographer and philanthropist) noticed the laboratory's fame and decided to finance a series of ships dedicated to the study of the sea. The arrival of the first ship "Le Roland" came at the same time as the opening of the port of Banyuls.

Over the years, the laboratory has welcomed scientists who wanted to promote and advance marine science. The research structures have been regularly extended over time to accommodate new researchers, technicians and students, who have contributed to the laboratory's reputation.

Observatory Directors:

  • 1882-1900: Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers
  • 1900-1923: Georges Pruvot
  • 1923-1937: Octavio Duboscq
  • 1937-1947: Edouard Chatton
  • 1947-1964: Georges Petit
  • 1964-1976: Pierre Drach
  • 1976-1989: Jacques Soyer
  • 1989-1999: Alain Guille
  • 2000-2005: Gilles Boeuf
  • 2005-2015: Philippe Lebaron
  • 2015-2019: Vincent Laudet
  • 2020-today: Yves Desdevises
Observatoire Océanologique
de Banyuls-sur-Mer
1 avenue Pierre Fabre
66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer
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