Hello from the Australian Institute of Marine Science!
AIMS is Australia’s tropical marine research agency, and the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) here is a world-class marine research aquarium facility for tropical marine organisms in which scientists can conduct cutting-edge research.
The Australian Government granted over 30 million dollars for the SeaSim facility in 2010, and over the following years people from AIMS travelled the world getting ideas from aquariums and aquaculture facilities. It opened in 2013 and it is truly a one of a kind, state-of-the-art tropical marine organism culturing facility - the perfect place to carry out AEFW experiments! See the website (http://www.aims.gov.au/seasim) for more details, and we will post photos over the coming weeks so you can see for yourselves.
Over the past 3 months Jonathan has been collecting AEFW infected fragments of Acropora species from different sites along the Great Barrier Reef. He has been culturing the AEFW for the life cycle experiments that we are currently setting up.
The first question we’re tackling is the time taken for embryos to develop at four different temperatures. Jonathan and his advisors have been setting up tanks and custom making incubation chambers for the eggs (see below).
At SeaSim we are able to control tank temperatures very accurately, and we have 3 tanks for each temperature and 3 egg batches per tank. Since Sunday we have been blasting Acropora millepora from Esk Reef every day and collecting the larger AEFW. We then hold them in plastic bags with tank water and we wait for them to lay eggs. We then place the eggs on the plastic in the temperature controlled tanks and record development and days to hatching.
Once we have these Esk Reef experiments running, we will then determine whether the embryos hatch as larvae and/or juveniles and repeat the starvation time experiments.
Keep tuned for more up-dates from the AEFW team!
Kate, Cat and Jonathan