The National Sea Simulator

Experimental tanks in a controlled environment room within the National Sea Simulator

The Australian Institute of Marine Science's National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) is a world-class marine research aquarium facility enabling scientists to conduct cutting-edge research on tropical marine organisms not previously possible in Australia.

SeaSim provides a range of interconnected technical capabilities that can help us to better understand the cumulative impact of pressures on tropical marine ecosystems. Designed to encourage scientific collaboration, the facility is helping Australia to realise the potential benefits of a rapidly emerging blue economy.

Download the National Sea Simulator booklet (PDF | 1614KB)


SeaSim can facilitate large scale, long-term, multi-factorial experiments on tropical marine environments

SeaSim supports large, long-term, multi-factorial experiments on tropical marine environments. With a reliable, consistent supply of seawater, SeaSim provides fine control over many environmental variables including:

  • Light
  • Temperature
  • Acidity/pCO2
  • Salinity
  • Sedimentation
  • Contaminants

SeaSim enables Australian and international researchers to better determine the impact of complex environmental changes on tropical marine ecosystems by facilitating a whole-of-ecosystem approach in a manner similar to what occurs in nature.

In addition, the SeaSim facility aims to develop systems for the long-term holding and propagation of corals providing model organisms for research. This will provide the ability to conduct multi-generational studies which are critical in understanding the ways in which marine organisms acclimate and adapt to a changing environment.

SeaSim is located at AIMS's Cape Ferguson headquarters, near Townsville


SeaSim is located at the AIMS headquarters at Cape Ferguson, south of Townsville, Queensland. Proximity to quality seawater, distance from urban populations and support from the established AIMS facilities made this an ideal location for this world-class facility.


Government Support

In 2010 the Australian Institute of Marine Science was awarded funding for the development of the National Sea Simulator. This was provided by the Australian Government through its Super Science Marine and Climate Initiative, with support from the Education Investment Fund.

Research and Development

To develop a facility that addressed the needs of current and future tropical marine research, AIMS staff married technologies from the large-scale public aquarium industry with those from the industrial process sector. This was supplemented with tours of leading aquarium and marine research facilities and expert advice from leading technology developers across the world. Integration of this knowledge with expertise from industrial process designers undoubtedly resulted in one of the most exciting advances in marine experimental research seen in Australia.


A prototype facility was constructed to thoroughly design concepts prior to full-scale implementation and to develop and construct suitable systems and methodologies for holding and propagating coral reef organisms. Highly qualified staff with skills in large public aquaria, process controls and technology, aquaculture and coral biology were recruited and developed a growing body of knowledge, adding significant value to the initial design and build phase of the Sea Simulator.

Construction and Opening

The then Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research announced commencement of construction on 13 July 2011 and officially opened SeaSim on 1 August 2013.

SeaSim has 28.2 km of pipework that can deliver up to 3 million litres of filtered seawater per day

SeaSim by numbers

  • 3 000 000 L filtered seawater pumped per day (full capacity)
  • 3 650 000 L of bulk seawater storage capacity
  • 3022m2 floor area
  • 28.2 km of pipework
  • 43 seawater pumps
  • 33 seawater processing tanks
  • 3 450L hot (40°C) seawater storage

Accessing SeaSim & more information

For information on accessing the SeaSim facility for research purposes, contact: Dr Lyndon Lewellyn or Mr Craig Humphrey.

Download the National Sea Simulator booklet (PDF | 1614KB)