María de los Ángeles Alvariño González was born on October 3, 1916. She was known as Ángeles Alvariño.
She was the first woman ever appointed as scientist aboard any British or Spanish exploration ships. María de los Ángeles Alvariño González was a Spanish fishery research biologist and oceanographer globally recognized as an authority in plankton biology.
She discovered 22 new species of marine animals and published over a hundred scientific books, chapters and articles.
She was the daughter of the medical doctor Dr. Antonio Alvariño Grimaldos and Maria del Carmen Gonzalez Diaz-Saavedra. From an early age she showed an interest in the natural sciences and read her father's book on zoology.
She attended the lycée Concepcion Arenal in Ferrol and in 1931 attended the University of Santiago de Compostela where she graduated summa cum laude in 1933. The titles of her dissertations were "Social Insects" and "Women in Don Quixote".
In 1934 she was admitted at the Complutense University of Madrid to study Natural Sciences, but had to interrupt her studies as a consequence of the Spanish Civil War.
In 1940 she married Eugenio Leira Manso, captain of the Spanish War Navy.
After the war, Ángeles Alvariño resumed her studies, and in 1941 she obtained her master's degree in Natural Sciences by the University of Madrid.
Ángeles Álvariño returned with her husband to Ferrol where she taught, from 1941 to 1948, biology, zoology, botany and geology as a professor at various schools. In 1948 she moved back with her family to Madrid to work as a fishery research biologist with the Department of Sea Fisheries.
In 1950, she moved back to Galicia and worked at the Spanish Oceanographic Institute in Vigo. In 1953 she received a scholarship from the British Council to conduct research on zooplankton in the Marine Biological Association laboratory at Plymouth, England.
Two planktonic species are named after her, the chaetognath Aidanosagitta alvarinoae (Pathansali, 1974) and the hydromedusa Lizzia alvarinoae (Segura, 1980).
She was a fellow of the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists and of the San Diego Society of Natural History, as well as being a member of the Biological Society of Washington and the Hispano-American Association of Researchers on Marine Sciences.
In her late career she studied the history of early marine scientific exploration.
She died on May 29, 2005.