Facilities & Campus

The Shoals Marine Laboratory has research vessels and laboratories used primarily for SML's undergraduate and high school courses. Vessels and laboratories are also available for use by researchers and visiting groups upon request. Researchers and visiting group leaders must charter vessels and reserve lab space in advance.

Please visit our Fees page for visitor and researcher rates.


R/V John M. Kingsbury

Physical Characteristics

Length: 47 feet Beam: 16 feet
Draft: 6.5 feet Gross Tonnage: 34
Net Tonnage: 23 Power: 146 hp Detroit Diesel
Material: Steel Cruising Speed: 8 knots
Construction: Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding Designer: Woodin & Marean, Inc.

Passenger capacity:

The R/V John M. Kingsbury can hold up to 48 passengers and 2 crew up to 20 miles offshore. Certified as a Coast Guard inspected vessel.

Lab and Research Facilities:

Researchers and Visiting Groups may charter the R/V John M. Kingsbury when the vessel is not engaged in SML program activites during May–September. SML provides certified captain and crew for each charter.  The R/V John M. Kingsbury offers a small wet/dry lab in the main cabin, and ample deck space in the aft section of the vessel. A 1-ton hydraulic crane, an A-frame, and winch make the aft deck functional for oceanographic cruises. Four berths are located below deck.

Available Research Equipment:

  • SeaBird CTD
  • Plankton nets, for both zooplankton and phytoplankton
  • Otter Trawl
  • Bottom "pipe" dredge
  • Niskin water sampler

R/V John B. Hesier

Physical Characteristics:

Length: 35.7 feet Beam: 12.3 feet
Draft: 1.5 feet Gross Tonnage: 13
Net Tonnage: 11 Power: 454 hp Caterpilar C7
Material: Aluminum Cruising Speed: 15 knots
Construction: Winninghoff Boats Designer: Winninghoff Boats

Passenger capacity:

The R/V J.B. Heiser can hold up to 23 passengers and 2 crew up to 100 miles offshore. Certified as a Coast Guard inspected vessel.

Lab and Research Facilities:

Researchers and Visiting Groups may charter the R/V J.B. Heiser when the vessel is not engaged in SML program activites during May – September. SML provides certified captain and crew for each charter.  The R/V J.B. Heiser has a starboard davit for hauling.

Available Research Equipment:

  • Plankton nets, for both zooplankton and phytoplankton
  • Niskin water sampler
  • Hagfish trap deployment/retrieval

R/V Acipenser

R/V Acipenser

R/V Acipenser

  • 1994 - Winninghoff Boats
  • 27 ft aluminum hull
  • 120 hp Volvo Penta AD31D Diesel

R/V Storm Petrel

  • 2006 - Parker 2120 Sport Cabin
  • 21 ft fiberglass hull
  • Yamaha 150 outboard

R/V Miss Christine

R/V Miss Christine

R/V Miss Christine

  • 16 ft Boston Whaler


  • Achilles SU-16
  • Outboard motor


  • S/V Becker - Herreshoff Doughdish 16'
  • S/V Mako - Cape Dory 19' Typhoo

Labs & Systems

The following laboratory spaces are available on Appledore Island:

Palmer-Kinne Laboratory ("P-K")

For SML undergraduate/high school courses
  • 2 large laboratory/teaching spaces
  • 2 sea tables (flow-thru) for specimens
  • Microscope stations (compound & dissecting scopes)
  • Image-capture camera scopes (Olympus BX40 and SZX61)
  • Video-capture scopes (Olympus BX40 and SZX61)
  • Outside necropsy/dissection table
  • Chest freezer for specimen storage
  • Lab equipment and instruments can be checked out with the SML Lab Coordinator

Kiggins Commons Basement Laboratory

For SML research interns and visiting researchers
  • Lecture space
  • Lab bench space
  • 5 sea tables (flow-thru) for specimens
  • Chest freezer for specimen storage
  • Mini-refridgerator

Laighton Laboratory

For SML courses and visiting researchers
  • 3 classroom/lecture spaces (projector-capable)
  • 2 laboratory spaces
  • Seatable (flow-thru) for specimens
  • 2 deep tanks for specimens
  • Library
  • Desktop computers (student-use)
  • Printer station (student-use)

Grass Lab

Appledore Island Migration Station & Sustainable Engineering Interns
  • Seatable (flow-thru)
  • Lab bench space
  • Mini-refrigerator

More information coming soon...

Visit our Sustainable Appledore page to learn about sustainable infrastructure installations and SML's green energy programs.

Sample Island Systems:

  • Saltwater pump system (for sea tables)
  • Solar hot water heating system (for showers)
  • SCUBA compressor bank
  • Leach fields (waste water treatment)

Learn more about student life at the Shoals Marine Laboratory by viewing The Appledore Island Handbook below!


Kiggins Commons

Kiggins Interior

Completed in 1974, the Kiggins Commons houses Shoals Marine Laboratory’s main kitchen and dining area. The Appledore Store is located on the first floor. The spacious dining area also serves as a common space for study, lectures, and evening socializing. The Water Conservation Building (public restrooms with composting toilets) is adjacent. The ground-level floor houses a laboratory with indoor and outdoor seatables. The Commons back porch serves as a loading dock for the kitchen and the front deck is a favorite gathering place with a magnificent view of the north part of Appledore and the mainland to north and west.


Lab Sea Table

Palmer-Kinne Laboratory is SML's largest teaching laboratory, with space for as many as 60 students simultaneously. Each student has about a meter of bench space for books, notes, specimens, tools, and optical equipment. The lab is equipped with a variety of scientific sampling equipment, and two large sea tables supply running seawater for housing marine organisms. Laboratory space for SML interns is located in the Kiggins Commons lab. Laboratory space for smaller groups with an option for flowing seawater exists in the Grass Foundation Laboratory. Combination classroom/lab space also exists in Laighton House.


Dorm Room

Each of SML’s three dorms has washrooms and 10 double-occupancy rooms (20 person capacity). Their location is convenient to the Commons, laboratories, and classrooms. Students are also housed in quad-occupancy rooms on the first and second floors of Founders Hall.


Students Outdoors

Most teaching at SML occurs out in the field! However, classrooms do exist on Appledore Island. The first floor of Hamilton House is SML’s largest classroom.  Three classrooms in Laighton can accommodate classes of 20 or fewer students each.


Kingsbury and Challenger

The southwest side of the island (leeward) is the laboratory's working waterfront. The floating dock is the main hub of activity to/from the island. With permission and supervision, students are allowed to swim in the Great Tidepool and from the floating dock during designated "swim calls."

Island Office & Infirmary

Located on the second floor of Hamilton House, the island office serves as the logistics hub of the marine lab. The island infirmary is well-equipped with health/medical supplies. All island staff receive First Aid, CPR, AED, and oxygen administration training.


Shoals Marine Laboratory maintains numerous engineering related buildings for energy production, drinking water treatment, and facilities maintenance on Appledore Island.  Plan a trip to Appledore this summer!  We’d love to show you the “behind the scenes” infrastructure needed to operate our seasonal field station. Read more about sustainability initiatives on Appledore...

Facilites & Vessels Contact

For questions regarding Facilities or Vessels please contact: