About MarLIN

MarLIN (the Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland) pioneered the use of the Web for the dissemination of quality assured information on the marine biodiversity of the British Isles and North East Atlantic to provide information resources that support marine management, conservation, and education. Originally established in response to the need for information to support the Habitats Directive and marine conservation and management in general, it has been at the forefront of science communication and evidence-based policy decision support, providing information freely, for twenty years.

MarLIN’s sensitivity assessments of marine habitats and species in response to human impacts and natural events formed the basis for much further work in this area.  It also developed a wide-reaching education programme, a data archive and a dissemination programme that continues today at the MBA. 

The MarLIN ‘biology and sensitivity’ database and website remain the largest review of the potential impacts of human activities and natural events on UK marine species and habitats yet undertaken – anywhere – ever.

History - 1999 to present day

The MarLIN programme was created with funding from DETR and the support of the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA), in late 1998, by Dr Keith Hiscock, Prof. Mike Whitaker and Ali Hood.  Further funding (especially from English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage) allowed the core team to be created with Dan Lear, Jon Parr, Angus Jackson, and Harvey Tyler-Walters by August 1999.  The MarLIN website was officially launched at the MBA conference ‘Using Marine Biological Information in the Electronic Age’, 19-21 July 1999; organized by the MarLIN team.  Subsequent development of the website, its content, and its database was supported by the advice of experts in marine biology and biodiversity data, from academia, museums, NGOs and statutory nature conservation bodies (SNCBs).

The MarLIN programme was divided into three main areas;

  • ‘Biology & Sensitivity’ Key Information - developed the MarLIN sensitivity assessment approach, in liaison with SNCB staff, government agencies, and academics. It provides information to support the conservation of marine species and habitats within SACs, SSSIs and other MPAs in UK waters (1999-present).
  • ‘Seabed Data Access’ - worked with JNCC and the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) on the development of Marine Recorder and marine data sharing across the UK (1999 – 2005). It provided online access to marine data and evolved into DASSH (the Archive for Marine Species and Habitats Data).
  • ‘Biological Recording and Education’ – developed online sighting schemes e.g. Sealife Survey and education events and information, e.g. the Learning Zone, and ID guides.

The MarLIN team continued to pioneer the use of online information resources and data to communicate marine science to an increasing audience (e.g. schools, naturalists, and the public) and provide decision support tools and contract research for marine managers and conservationists in the British Isles. The MarLIN team also delivered numerous contract science and advice projects for SNCBs and NGOs (see https://www.marlin.ac.uk/publications).

Here are a few programme highlights and achievements.

Logo Activity
DASSH logo

DASSH (the Archive for Marine Species and Habitats Data) marine data archive centre created (2005 – present)


BIOTIC (Biological Traits Information Catalogue) was created in liaison with PML and MBA benthic ecologists (2005- 2010).


'Mineral Wealth – Seabed Health' – created online resources to communicate the results of surveys funded by the Marine Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (2006-2007)


'Seabed indicator species’ report and website launched from time-series and other studies to support the implementation of the EU Habitats and Water Framework Directives (2005-2010)


Effects of fishing within UK European Marine Sites: guidance for nature conservation agencies report and searchable website launched (2007- present).

Shore Thing logo

Shore Thing project launched – one of the first citizen science projects in the UK – using students and the public to undertake surveys of rocky shores (2007-present).

Marine Aliens logo

'Marine Aliens' website was launched – to support national awareness of marine non-native species (2007-2010).

UK Marine Protected Areas Centre logo

UK Marine Protected Areas Centre launched as an information resource for marine protected area (MPA) practitioners (www.uk.mpas.org) (2008-2011).

Blue Sound Project logo

Blue Sound Project building on community links Blue Sound was funded by the Heritage Lottery fund to engage with communities across Plymouth (2010-13). The project continues as the Beach Rangers programme each summer.

MarLIN was brought under MBA management in 2011 as part of the MBA’s ‘Knowledge exchange’ remit.  The ‘Recording & Education’ programme continues as MBA Education; DASSH as the national ‘Archive for marine species and habitats data’ and MBA Data Management, and MarLIN contract services as MBA Evidence/contract services, while the ‘Biology & Sensitivity' programme continues as MarLIN.

A new MarESA (Marine Evidence-based Sensitivity Assessment) approach was adopted after the revision of the sensitivity assessment approach in liaison with SNCBs in 2014.  A major update of the sensitivity assessment dataset for habitats was undertaken in 2015/16.  The review of the sensitivity of UK marine biotopes and species of conservation interest continues to update and add content today. The current MarLIN website (v2.1) was re-launched with a responsive design and its own content management system in 2014.


The MarLIN programme was a major multi-disciplinary project dependent on the varied expertise of its team, and the advice and support of numerous others.  Today, it continues to depend on the advice and support of outside experts, peer reviewers, image providers, volunteers and naturalists worldwide. Therefore, the MarLIN team would like to give a ‘big thank you’ to all those who have or continue to support and contribute to the work of MarLIN.

Team members and contributors (1999 to date)

Individual authors are acknowledged in each review (see citation).

Keith Hiscock, Ali Hood, Angus Jackson, Dan B. Lear, Guy J. Baker, Emily Wilson, Harvey Tyler-Walters, Jon Parr, John Bleach, Olwen E.D. Ager, Jacqueline M. Hill, William J. Rayment, Georgina C. Budd, Charlotte E. Marshall, Fiona Crouch, Jack Sewell, Jayne Evans, Becky Seeley, Jaret Bilewitch, Olivia Langmead, Emma L. Jackson, Dan Bayley, Martin Gautier, Heidi M. Tillin, Thomas Stamp, John A.J. Readman, Frances Perry, Matthew Ashley, Eliane S.R. De-Bastos, Emelia A.S. D'Avack, Claire Jasper, Natalie Gibb, Katherine Mainwaring, Rebecca M. McQuillan, Samantha L. Garrard, Emma Williams, Kyran Graves, Ellie G. Burdett, Megan Mardle, Kelsey Lloyd, Amy Watson, Catherine M. Wilding, Chloe M. Wilson, Eliza Gibson-Hall, Ruby A. Nash, Carmel Roche, Nicola White, Olivia C. Durkin, Michele Carter, Nicola A. Sweet, Milly Hatton-Brown, Dan McGreal, Ian Luckcraft, Ellen K. Last, Laura M. Grady (nee Robson), Liam Matear, Jess Taylor, Christina Nikolova, Kirsten Dinwoodie, Jazz Perry, Lauren Molloy, Leah Baron-Cohen, Matthew Fergusson, Jonny Savage, Emma Granö, Amy Ridgeway, Geogia Bull, Dr Natalia Serpetti, Dr Bhavani Narayanaswamy, Dr David Hughes, Penny Avant, Susie Ballerstedt, Liz Barton, Matthew K.S. Barnes, Evelina Capasso, Abigail Crosby, Lisa Curtis, Rose V. Edwards, Paul Gregory, Rebecca Harris, Jessica R. Heard, Andrew M. Hosie, Jolene R. Hughes, Hugh Jones, Edward M. Mayhew, Nova Mieszkowska, Katie Mortimer-Jones, Catherine MacDougall, Ken J. Neal, Anna H. Neish, Judith A. Oakley, Sally Pearce, Frances Peckett, Paulo F. Pizzolla, Kate A. Reeds, Al Reeve, Saskiya Richards, Karen Riley, Sonia Rowley, Sam Rogers, Anna Ruiz, Dean Russel, Marisa Sabatini, Marie Skewes, Jenny Smirthwaite, and Emma Snowden.

Funders and supporters (since 1999)

Associated British Ports Research (ABPmer), Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) / Natural Resources Wales (NRW); Crown Estate (CE); Dept. Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, NI (DAERA); Dept. Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR); Dept. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra); English Nature (EN) / Natural England (NE); Environment Agency; Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (EFF); GB Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS); Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF); John Ellerman Foundation (JEF); Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC); Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF); Marine Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund (MALSF); Marine Environmental Data & Information Network (MEDIN); Marine Scotland or Scottish Government; National Marine Aquarium; PADI AWARE; Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA); Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) now NatureScot; World Wildlife Fund (WWF-UK)

Image providers (to date)

Individual image providers are acknowledged under each image - see Terms and Conditions 

Abigail Rhodes; Alan J. Southward; Alan Thurbon; Alex Fraser; Andre Freiwald; Andrew Marriott; Anne Marie Power; Arnold T. Watson; Becky Seeley; Bernard Picton; BIODIDAC; BIOMAR; Bob Williams; Bryan Harrison; Bryan Wasson; Cathal McNaughton; Cathy Stevenson; CCW (Countryside Council for Wales); Charles Hood; Charlotte Marshall; Chris Wood; Christian Henlé; Christopher McAskie; Colin Speedie; Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa; Dan Bayley; Dan Lear; ; Dany Ros; Dave Dunlop; Dave Peake; David Fenwick Snr; Davy Holt; Defra; Dennis R. Seaward; Derek Mayes; Devon Wildlife Trust; Dick Jones; Douglas P. Wilson; Dr Andrew Davies; Dr Angus Jackson; Dr Ben Hextall; Dr Blaise Bullimore; Dr Brian Bett; Dr Charlotte Marshall; Dr Elizabeth Cook; Dr Eve Southward; Dr Gerald Boalch; Dr Hans Hillewaert; Dr Harvey Tyler-Walters; Dr Hilmar Hinz; Dr Ian Powell; Dr Inken Kruse; Dr Ivor Rees; Dr John Bishop; Dr John Turner; Dr Katie Mortimer-Jones; Dr Keith Hiscock; Dr Ken Collins; Dr Leen Vandepitte; Dr Maeve Kelly; Dr Matt Bentley; Dr Matthew Service; Dr Matthias Strasser; Dr Murray Roberts; Dr Paul Naylor; Dr R.S.K. Barnes; Dr Rohan Holt; Dr Russel Wynn; Dr Sebastian Holmes; Dr Stefan Kraan; Dr Stephen Gollasch; Dr Sutherland MacIver; Dr Tammy Horton; Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory; Dylan Jones; English Nature/Natural England; Erling Svensen; FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations); Fiona Crouch; Fiona Ravenscroft; Francis Bunker; Geoff Coates; Gerry Casey; Gordon Lang; Greg Brown; Guido Selling; Guy Baker; Guy Freeman; Hans Kleef and Peter Tydeman; Harriet Salomonsen; Helmut Nisters; Holly Latham; Ian F. Smith; Ignacio Bàrbara; Inês Cristovão; Ingvar Byrkjedal; Jack Laws; Jack Sewell; James Bell; Jeff Blincow; Jenni Kakkonen; Jessica Winder; Jim Anderson; Jo Trout; John Brooks; John Hepburn; John Kelly; John Rafferty; John Rundle; Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Jon Moore; Judith Oakley; Julian Madle; Kate Willis; Ken Collins; Kerry Donovan; Kristie Wilkinson; Liam Faisey; Lin Baldock; Marco Faasse; Marine Ecological Surveys Ltd; Mark Breckels; Mark Thomas; Martin Isaeus; Martin Palmer; Matthew Jeanes; Matthew Service; MCS (Marine Conservation Society); Michael Puleston; Mike Daines; Mike Firth; Mike Markey; Misjeel Decleer; NHM (Natural History Museum); NHW (National Museum Wales); Nigel Charles; Nigel Sawyer; Norman Jackson; Nuno Queiroz; Pamela Tompsett; Paul Newland; Paul Parsons; Paul Tranter; Paula Ferris; Paula Lightfoot; Peter Bardsley; Peter Barfield; Peter O’Donnell; Peter van Bragt; Peter Watkinson; Prof. Christine Maggs; Prof. Jason Hall-Spencer; Prof. John Davenport; Prof. Murray Roberts; Richard Edmonds; Richard Lord; Richard Smith; Rob Jutsum; Rob Spray and Dawn Watson; Robert Beharie; Robert Keen; Ruth Memmott; Sally Sharrock; SAMS (Scottish Association for Marine Science); SERPENT Project, the DEEPSEAS Group at NOC; Simon Brown; Simon Thurston; SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage); Sofie Vandendriessche; Stephen Chalk; Steve Bell; Steven Campbell; Sue Burton; Sue Daly; Sue Scott; Tabitha Pearman; Terry Wimbleton; Thom Nickell; Tim Nicholson; Tim Siferd; Ulster Museum; University of Plymouth; Viviana Peña; Whirling Disease Foundation; and WWF-UK.

Peer reviewers (to date)

Individual referees are acknowledged in each review.

Dr Alex Rogers; Dr Ana Colaço; Dr Andrew C. Campbell; Dr Andrew Davies; Dr Anthony Grehan; Dr Bill Langston; Dr Bob Foster-Smith; Dr Bryony Pearce; Dr Christine Maggs; Dr Claire Goodwin; Dr Colin Trigg; Dr Dagmar Stengel; Dr Dan Minchin; Dr David Hughes; Dr David McGrath; Dr David Reid; Dr Elvira Poloczanska; Dr Emma Jackson; Dr Eunice Pinn; Dr Fabio Rindi; Dr Georgios Kazanidis; Dr Ib Svane; Dr Joanna Jones (nee Kain); Dr Joanne Porter; Dr John Bishop; Dr John Crothers; Dr John Fish; Dr John Grahame; Dr Karin Hollertz; Dr Katie Mortimer-Jones; Dr Keith Hiscock; Dr Leigh Jones; Dr Maeve Kelly; Dr Marc Eléaume; Dr Martin Sheader; Dr Matt Bentley; Dr Matthias Strasser; Dr Murray Roberts; Dr Paul M. Gilliland; Dr Peter Gibbs; Dr Peter J. Hayward; Dr Richard S.K. Barnes; Dr Rob van Soest; Dr Rohan Holt; Dr Simon Davy; Dr Stefan Kraan; Dr Terry Holt; Prof. Alan J. Southward; Prof. Charles Messing; Prof. Daphne Fautin; Prof. David Nichols; Prof. Jason Hall-Spencer; Prof. Jean-Claude Dauvin; Prof. P. Geoff Moore; Prof. Paul Tyler; Prof. Ray Seed; Prof. Robert Patzner; Prof. Steve J. Hawkins; and Prof. Stuart Jenkins.

Key personnel (current)

Project manager and acting editor  - Harvey Tyler-Walters - responsible for the supervision of the sensitivity review process, quality control, editorial control, additional material, information architecture and content management of the site.

Technical lead - Dan Lear - responsible for the network infrastructure and databases.

Website development - Fear of Mice (www.fearofmice.co.uk) - responsible for the rebuild and maintenance of MarLIN databases, design, and build of the FUEL CMS, build, design and coding of the website (MarLIN v2.1). The MarLIN website is hosted by the MBA. The MarLIN website 2015 (MarLIN v2.1) is powered by MySQL and PHP, via a bespoke content management system (CMS) in FUEL CMS, and uses the Designmodo Flat UI Pro template.

Bespoke species and habitat glyphs - designed by Harvey Tyler-Walters.

Citation (or Attribution)

All users of the information or other content of the MarLIN website must correctly attribute the source of the information.

Where an author is given, for example on our online species and habitat reviews, the web page(s) may be cited as follows, indicating the author's name, year of the last update, title, citation date and that it is available on the MarLIN website. For example:

Budd, G.C. 2014. Alcyonium digitatum Dead man's fingers. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds). Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [online]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: www.marlin.ac.uk

Tyler-Walters, H., 2003. Lophelia reefs. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds). Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [online]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: www.marlin.ac.uk

Where no author is given, then the website as a whole must be cited.

MarLIN (Marine Life Information Network), 2020. Marine Life Information Network. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 01/01/09]. Available from: www.marlin.ac.uk

The sensitivity assessment database can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters H., Hiscock K. (eds), Tillin, H.M., Stamp, T., Readman, J.A.J., Perry, F., Ashley, M., De-Bastos, E.S.R., D'Avack, E.A.S., Jasper, C., Gibb, N., Mainwaring, K., McQuillan, R.M., Wilson, C.M., Gibson-Hall, E., Last, E.K., Grady (nee Robson), L.M., Garrard, S.L., Williams, E., Graves, K.P., Taylor, J., Molloy, L., Ridgeway, A., Matear, L., Taylor, J., Nikolova, C., Dinwoodie, K., Perry, J., Molloy, L., Baron-Cohen, L., Fergusson, M., Savage, J., Bull, G., Serpetti, N., Narayanaswamy, B., Hughes, D., Burdett, E.G., Lloyd, K.A., Mardle, M.J., Watson, A., Granö, E., Nash, R.A., Roche, C., Budd, G.C., Hill, J.M., Jackson, A., White, N., Rayment, W.J., Wilding, C.M., Marshall, C.E., Wilson, E., Riley, K., Neal, K.J. Sabatini, M., Durkin, O.C., Ager, O.E.D., Bilewitch, J., Carter, M., Hosie, A.M., Mieszkowska, N. & Lear, D.B., 2024. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Review Database [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: www.marlin.ac.uk

A citation is suggested on our species and habitat web pages.

In addition, we ask that websites that refer to or use our information provide a link (URL) to our website. Please let us know so that we can consider providing a reciprocal link. Please direct any questions regarding the use of the MarLIN information to Dr Harvey Tyler-Walters (htw@mba.ac.uk) or care of MarLIN via marlin@mba.ac.uk.