N.N. Miklouho-Maclay is a world-famous Russian humanist scientist and traveler, whose ideas were far ahead of his time. Nikolay Nikolaevich made a significant contribution to the development of various sciences, including ethnography, anthropology, oceanology, biology, and even volcanology.

Miklouho-Maclay dreamed of a number of biological stations around the globe, connected with roads or railways. They were supposed to become a haven for scientists and travelers: here they could conduct experiments and research, collect scientific material, and then move to the next station and so travel around the world.

In 1866, two young zoologists, Nikolay Miklouho-Maclay and Anton Dorn, who were students at the time, studied sharks, chimeras, crayfish and other sea creatures in the Sicilian city of Messina, Italy. The researchers believed that for a deeper study of marine zoology it was not enough to catalogue, dry or dissect the organisms collected, so they made the following conclusion: the progress of zoological science requires long-term observations of living organisms in their habitat. They came up with an idea to establish a number of biological stations with aquariums around the world, where conditions would be close to natural.

In 1869, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay called for the foundation of a biological station in Russia. Miklouho-Maclay made this idea public in 1869 at the second Congress of Russian Naturalists and Doctors in Moscow. The idea was supported and the Congress decided to establish a biological station in Sevastopol on the coast of Crimea. In 1871, the Sevastopol biological station was opened, becoming the first one in Russia and Europe and the third in the world. This station exists to this day, having turned into a major scientific institution – the A.O. Kovalevsky Institute of Biology of the South Seas of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Nikolay Nikolaevich’s friend Anton Dorn then founded a zoological station in Naples in 1873. On the first floor of its elegant, palace-like building, a large marine aquarium was located, which attracted thousands of tourists; the entrance fee became one of the main sources of funding for the station. On the second floor there were work rooms and laboratories.

During this period, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay finished the first expedition to the northeastern coast of New Guinea (the Maclay Coast), studied Papua Kowiai (west part of New Guinea) and was on his way to the jungle of the Malay Peninsula. There, in the southern part of Malacca, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay found a place suitable for a zoological (biological) station. In 1875, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay chose a small hill near Johor Bahru, which forms a promontory in the Johor Strait that separates Singapore from the Malay Peninsula, and asked Abu Bakar to sell it. The Sultan, with his Oriental courtesy, did not say no to the distinguished guest, but no papers were signed. Taking advantage of the postponed expedition, the traveler drafted the rules for using the station, drew a sketch of its building, and even gave a name to the station “Tempat Senang” (in Malay – “a place of rest”). Two months later, Abu Bakar informed the traveler that he could not sell the land, but only agreed to lease it for several years, which did not suit the plans of the Russian humanist scientist.

Regardless of the result, the establishment of a biological station was an important goal in N.N. Miklouho-Maclay’s life. In 1881, six years later, the traveler opened the first such station in the southern hemisphere in Watson’s Bay near Sydney. According to the scientist’s diary, “It was a small cottage consisting of four workrooms where naturalists of all nationalities could work without disturbing each other”. Its architect John Kirkpatrick designed the building of the future station according to Nikolay Nikolaevich’s sketch. It was estimated that the construction would require 600 pounds sterling. In 1883, after returning from Russia, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay worked for two years at the biological station in Watsons Bay, where he studied the coastal waters of the Australian Continent. The scientist considered it “an example of a completely international scientific institution that will have great significance for the biological sciences and their progress.

Throughout his life, N.N. Miklouho-Maclay has made a huge contribution to a variety of sciences, both theoretical and applied. Along with anthropology and ethnography, Nikolay Nikolaevich became a true pioneer in biology, and the buildings of his biological stations have been storing the history of his discoveries for more than a century so far.