The Victoria University Coastal Ecology Laboratory in Wellington’s Island Bay supports the School of Biological Sciences’ coastal ecology research. Coastal ecology is the scientific study of organisms that inhabit coastal environments. Coastal ecologists study. The natural history and biology of organisms (plants, animals, algae, microbes), Interactions between organisms, how organisms are affected by their environment. Coastal ecology emphasises the importance of ecological connections between the land and sea, and therefore includes the study of land-based ecosystems (terrestrial ecology) and marine ecosystems (marine biology). Within New Zealand, the land and sea are well-connected: rivers transport materials from the land to coastal oceans, sea birds transfer marine-derived materials back to land, and land-based human populations routinely extract organisms from coastal oceans.
Victoria University first proposed a marine laboratory and aquarium at Island Bay in the 1920s. Although the Wellington City Council had previously granted a site for this facility, it was not until the 1960s that the Island Bay Marine Laboratory first came into existence. The University's first Marine Laboratory occupied a set of buildings that were originally constructed in the late 1940s by the Glaxo Company. In 1996, the Island Bay Marine Education Centre began, sharing Victoria University’s research facilities until 2005, when the Marine Education Centre moved to its current location at the old Bait House in Island Bay.