The scientific study of marine life can be approached in two ways: it can be used to gain new insights into the field of general biology, considering the inhabitants of the sea on the same level as any other organism in the laboratory, which may offer particular advantages for the study of fundamental biological processes. Or, it can be approached in an ecological manner, to gain a deeper understanding of the relationships, both physical and biotic, that exist between marine organisms and their environment. The first approach aims to develop new tools and concepts and to solve problems related to marine organisms that have recently been brought into focus by research in biological disciplines such as biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, microbiology, and ethology. The sea contains a myriad of different living organisms, knowledge of which, used effectively, can clarify, for example, the molecular basis of evolutionary processes. Current problems and technologies, and above all the use that can be made of them, are the main considerations of the ecological approach. Only in this way is it possible to address the complex issues relating to the rational management of the sea’s biological resources. The ecological approach presupposes the collaboration of various disciplines and encompasses the study of marine population dynamics and genetics, the problems inherent in the energy flow of this particular aquatic habitat, marine productivity measured at all possible levels, the discovery of pharmacologically active substances, and the study of the problems involved in examining the methods of rearing marine organisms in order to lay the foundations for practical aquaculture.
Through lectures and discussions, the school aims to examine topics of marked theoretical or practical interest along one or other of the aforementioned lines of approach. The courses will sometimes be monographic, but more often they will be multidisciplinary in nature. As in other fields of research, the collaboration of specialists in different subjects can facilitate faster and more efficient problem-solving than would be possible with an exclusively unilateral approach.