The Institute's principal focus is research, which underpins its teaching, training, capacity development and consultancy activities. Hence it brings together active researchers in the field who add value to and benefit from this collaborative structure. At the Institution, observation, measurement, and collection of samples and data are accomplished by ship cruises, field trips and remote sensing by satellite. The institute’s array of multi-disciplinary researchers are involved in exciting inter-disciplinary projects.
The Institute also convenes a Masters degree in Applied Ocean Sciences.
Ma-Re also conducts an outreach and education programme for school learners. It focuses its outreach activities on school open days, university open days, National Science Week, the Grahamstown Science Festival held annually in the Eastern Cape and the Sci-Bono open day held annually in Gauteng.