Location and Setting

The Institute of Oceanography (IOC) is located in the city of Calabar (approx. 4o 8’ N; 8o 20’E) within the serene rain forest and mangrove environment of southeast Nigeria. Calabar is a burgeoning metropolis of the south of Nigeria and is accessible by all modes of transportation – air, land and sea. Other locational details of the Institute, can be viewed on the map above.

Calabar is located on the Calabar River with access to the Atlantic Ocean through the estuary of the Cross River. The Cross River Estuary is about the widest estuary on the West African coast, stretching approximately 25 km at its widest point. The complexities of its hydrodynamics, fisheries, ecology, and socio-economics provide ample opportunity for research by staff of the Institute in cooperation with interested relevant organizations and institutions.


Historical Background of IOC

The Institute of Oceanography, University of Calabar, was established in 1982 as a centre for research and training in marine sciences in Nigeria. It is the only university-based research institute in the country, which addresses issues concerning nature, utilization and conservation of our coastal and offshore resources. The mission of the Institute is defined by its statute pursuant to which she engages in research and consultancy, forging of national and international linkages and activities in general which promote the understanding of the aquatic environment.

As mankind increasingly turns to the sea for exploitation of resources and disposal of wastes, a better understanding of the aquatic environment in general and the marine environment in particular will assume greater importance. The University of Calabar, by its coastal location, is strategically placed to address these concerns in Nigeria. We envisage an Institute which should eventually serve as a university-based centre of excellence for research and training in marine science disciplines charged with the production of the required medium- and high-level marine expertise in the country. The value of such a centre is predicated on the following:

• The strategic and the maritime location of the University of Calabar,

• The country’s extensive coastline which stretches for over 800 kilometers and the inadequate number of institutions sufficiently staffed and equipped to address various marine-related issues and problems which require scientific investigation,

• The extensive material and human resources along this coastline for which we need a deeper understanding of their interactions for sustainable utilization and management,

• The increasing threats to sensitive coastal ecosystems such as the mangrove forest and the need for a body of information relevant to their sustenance,

• The increasing importance of the marine environment as a source of natural resources and destination for the disposal of industrial and domestic waste products.


Conception and Origin

The Institute grew out of the erstwhile Department of Biological Sciences and the vision for her conception and creation must be credited to the founding Director, Professor Ulo Kponuko Enyenihi. The blueprint for the establishment of the institute was formulated in 1981/1982 under the coordination of the Research Center of the Gesellschaft zur Anwendung der Kernenergie in Schiffbau und Schiffahrt mbh (GKSS), Hamburg, Germany and the full and active participation of the following individuals and institutions:

Dipl. Ing. Helmut Bianchi                             -              GKSS

Prof. Dr. W. Nellen                                       -             Institut fur Meereskunde, Kiel

Prof. Dr. D. Schnack                                    -             Institut fur Meereskunde, Kiel

Prof. Dr. G. Hempel                                      -            University of Bremen

The initial conception of the Institute was ambitious, envisaging a six-department structure with the full complement of ancillary operational units and infrastructure. Funding constraints, however, and the exigencies of the political situation in the course of actualizing the initial concept demanded a dynamic response by the institute in the execution of its mandate. Consequently, in 1987, the institute undertook a restructuring which involved the streamlining of the initial six departments into three departments viz: Departments of Biological Oceanography, Physical Oceanography, and Fisheries and Aquaculture. In 2007, the departmental structure of the institute was abandoned and the former departments became Units within the Institute. As a result of these changes, IOC has emerged as a more dynamic interdisciplinary institute.


Historical Landmarks

Some significant landmarks, despite the difficult operating circumstances, have punctuated the history of the Institute. These achievements have been recorded in the areas of attracting national and international research funding, fellowships and awards; consultancy and community service; and the design and implementation of innovative programmes of teaching and research. These are highlighted below and further presented in detail under the respective sections:


A. Funding Grants/Collaborative Projects

1. EEC-Funded Programme for Research and Training in Aquaculture under theOil Palm Belt Development Programme

This was a three-year tri-partite research project (1991-1993) initiated by Institute of Oceanography in joint execution with the African Regional Aquaculture Centre (ARAC) in Port Harcourt, and the Institute of Animal Husbandry of the University of Gottingen, Germany. Total value of the grant was 1.5 million ECU (approximately ₦150 million). The grant was used for setting up research facilities in the cooperating institutions and for the IOC, the construction of a 2 ha research fish farm facility, research laboratories, equipment and staff development. Under the program and using her facilities, IOC graduated over 20 M.Sc/Ph.D candidates in fisheries/aquatic sciences most of whom are currently engaged in different departments of the University and outside.

The University Fish Farm developed under the EEC-funded programme is the largest fish farm facility for research and teaching in aquaculture in a Nigerian University.


2. Darwin Initiative/University of New Castle-upon-Tyne

The Institute, through the Department of Physical Oceanography, participated in collaborative efforts with the University of New Castle-upon-Tyne to develop a Biodiversity Manual for the West African Region initiated by UK Overseas Development Agency under the Darwin Initiative Project.


Other institutions collaborating with IOC in different joint academic and research endeavours are presented in other sections below.


3. TETfund Centre of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture

In 2007, the Education Trust Fund (ETF; now Tertiary Education Trust Fund or TETfund awarded the Institute of Oceanography (IOC) a ₦61 million grant as a Centre of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture. Under this project, existing facilities in the farm have been expanded and new facilities added. Additional 1 ha of earthen ponds and concrete tanks were constructed bringing the total surface area of outdoor pond and tank facilities to about 3.0 ha. A feed mill was also constructed with the capacity to produce 1.5 tons of pelletized fish feed per hour and 10 to 15 tons in an 8-hour operation per day. A second borehole was sunk to increase water availability for the operations of the farm.


4. UNIDO Centre of Excellence in Coastal Area Management

 The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) selected Institute of Oceanography as a Centre of Excellence in Coastal Area Management in 2007. Within this framework, UNIDO donated an Internet Centre to the Institute with 11 pieces of desk-top computers; and sponsored two IOC Scientists to a study tour of Thailand in connection with the management of mangrove swamp and nypa palm utilization project. At least two scientists of IOC remain consultants to UNIDO on the sustainable use of mangrove ecosystems in Nigeria, including the control of nypa palm (Nypa fructicans) by appropriate utilization.


5. FGN-IAEA Project on Marine Pollution Monitoring in Nigeria

Institute of Oceanography (IOC) is a participant and the Lead Institution for the southeast coast, in the collaborative project between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) for the monitoring of marine pollution in Nigeria. Within the framework of this project, two senior IOC scientists have undergone short term training on modern techniques of marine pollution monitoring in Tunisia and Morocco respectively. In 2011, IAEA gave the Institute a grant of ₦1 million for purchase of minor equipment and consumables. Other partner institutions in Nigeria include: Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Lagos; University of Port Harcourt; and Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys (RECTAS) of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife.


6. International Foundation for Science (IFS) Research Grants

Staff members of the Institute attracted research grants valued at above US $60,000 (approx. ₦8 million) from the International Foundation for Science (IFS) in Sweden as follows:

      Prof. A. I. Obiekezie: US $ 36,400 for research on pathology of cultured tropical fish species.

      Dr. Daniel E. Ama-Abasi: US $24,000 for research on the biology of the West African Shad, Ethmalosa fimbriata.


The grants have been utilized in providing research equipment and resource materials that have sustained research and teaching in the Institute/University.


7. Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Foundation, Bonn, Germany

A staff, Prof. Udeme I. Enin, attracted equipment donation from the AvH worth €26,000.00 and a book donation worth €1000.00, and Fellowship awards in Germany totaling 22 months.


8. Fellowships and Awards

The attraction of international fellowships and awards attest to International exposure of our research staff and represents a significant contribution to the equipment and resource base of the Institute/University as follows:


• Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship awards to Dr. L. E. Etim and Dr. U. I. Enin;

• Fullbright Study Fellowships to Dr. Francis M. Nwosu, Dr. Daniel Ama-Abasi and Mr. Albert Ekanem within the context of staff development;

• Over 30 travel and study fellowships at different instances to different countries and institutions for both academic and professional staff of the institute

• The 2001 IFS/DANIDA Award for excellence in aquatic resources research in sub-Saharan Africa to Prof. A. I. Obiekezie.



B. Consultancy and National/Community Service

  1. The Institute, through the Department of Physical Oceanography, at a time, coordinated the Raw Materials Survey (Non-Metallic Mineral Products) for the South-South Zone for the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
  2. The Department of Physical Oceanography of the Institute, through the department head, Prof. E. E. Antia, participated in specialist sessions of the Climate Change Impact of Nigeria Project fostered by the Federal Ministry of Environment and also chairs the Environmental Impact Assessment Panel of Offshore-Based projects for the Federal Ministry of Environment.
  3. Over 70 consultancy projects have been executed for government, industry and bilateral organizations by Institute staff and using Institute facilities under the aegis of Unicalcons and other consultancy outfits.


C. Innovative Academic Programmes

In 2014/2015 session new students were admitted for first time for training in the new Post Graduate Diploma programme in Marine Ecology, Toxicology and Pollution(METP) of the Institute.. Our other post graduate programmes in fisheries  & Aquaculture and the Coastal Zone management has increased in strength and popularity with increase intake of students and in turn over of graduates. The Institute has set the pace in being the first university-based center in Nigeria for graduate training in coastal zone management.  The pioneer candidates of the 12-month programme completed and defended their theses in 2001/2002 session.  The programme was housed in the then Department of Physical Oceanography, now Physical Oceanography Unit.


Major historical landmarks are summarized as follows:


Date         Event

1982         Establishment of the Institute

1984         Launch of first Institute Research Boat – MV Uta

1986         First Consultancy Project

1990         Externally Funded Research Project

1985         Intake of first set of Graduate Students

1987         Institute moves to a new location – the “Institutes Building”

1987         Re-organization of departmental structure

1988         First M.Sc graduates of the Institute

1991         First Ph.D graduates

2002         Launch of B.Sc in Marine Science Programme

2008         Diploma in Marine Science (DMS) programme commences


Since inception, therefore, the Institute has creditably discharged its mandate through forging of linkages with national and international institutions.  By this means, the Institute has put in place a sound basis for the establishment of a center of excellence in marine science disciplines in the country through the acquisition of research equipment and facilities and the provision of international training and exposure to her academic and professional/technical staff.


1.3 Directors of the Institute

1. Prof. Ulo Kponuko Enyenihi (Founding Director)  1982-1996

2. Prof. (Etubom) Anthony E. Nya                             1996-2000

3. Prof. Austin Ik. Obiekezie                                      2000-2004

4. Prof. Effiom E. Antia                                              2004-2006

5. Prof. Udo J. Ibok                                                   2006-2008

6. Prof. Austin Ik. Obiekezie                                      2008-2011

7. Prof.Udeme I. Enin                                                2010 -2012

8. Prof. Francis E.Asuquo                                         2012 -2015

9. Prof.Paul J.Udo                                                    2015 to date



1.4 Administration of the Institute

The Institute is headed by a Director who is appointed by the Vice-Chancellor. The Institute comprises of three units each headed by a Head of Unit (HOU).

The Units are:

• Biological Oceanography Unit (BOU) which covers the following research areas: Aquatic Microbiology, Marine Biology and Capture Fisheries;


• Physical Oceanography Unit (POU) covering research areas of Marine Chemistry/Environmental Pollution, Marine Geology and Physical Oceanography;


• Fisheries and Aquaculture Unit (FAQ) which encompass research areas such as Fish/Shell fish and Allied Culture Systems, Fish Pathology and Disease Control and Fish Nutrition. The organogram of the Institute is shown in the diagram below.



1.5    Technical Support Units

a) Central Workshop

b) Oceanography Resource & Documentation Centre

c) Fish Farm and Hatchery

d) Photo and Graphic Laboratory

e) Oceanography Museum

f) Environmental Evaluation and Monitoring Unit

g) Material and Chemical Stores

















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