Bellairs Research Institute

Bellairs Research Institute

Bellairs Research Institute is Canada's only teaching and research facility in the tropics. Located in Holetown, Barbados, Bellairs Research Institute is a McGill University facility which maintains an open-door policy to all researchers with academic interests in tropical terrestrial and marine environments.

Research opportunities

Bellairs offers access to a world of opportunities. On site, there is a range of marine habitats, including intertidal sand and rock, coral reefs, estuaries and mangroves, algal and seagrass beds, and deep oceanic water close to shore. The Institute provides easy access to other unique marine and terrestrial environments nearby; Barbados is the only non-volcanic island in the Lesser Antilles. Research at Bellairs has broadened from primarily marine science to a wide spectrum of disciplines in the natural and social sciences, such as geology, geography, archaeology, climatology, biology, ecology, horticulture, agriculture, sustainability, and water management.

History and purpose

Bellairs Research Institute was founded and endowed in 1954 by the late Commander Carlyon W. Bellairs to provide a facility through which staff at McGill might develop a scholarly interest in the tropics. It plays host to students and scientists from around the world for field courses, workshops and research projects involving both marine and terrestrial environments. Bellairs also maintains close association with local academic, government, and non-government organizations.


Bellairs also offers on-site accommodations at competitive rates.

Sixty years, and going strong!

2014 was Bellairs' 60th anniversary. You may want to read "Bellairs Research Institute celebrates 60th anniversary" from the Barbados Advocate.

Barbados recently hosted the 2014 World Environment Day (WED) global celebrations. In connection, the Bellairs Research Institute organized a public lecture and panel discussion on sustainable production and consumption of food on June 5, 2014. The final report, “Feeding Ourselves – Now and in the Future Reality or Not?”  is now available, with foreword by the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Barbados, June 2015.

Visit our "From the archives" page for pictures from the early days, and for the full text of a speech given by Principal F. Cyril James in 1960 on the opening of the first new building at Bellairs.

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