National Sea Simulator

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

Using SeaSim, Australian and international scientists can research the impact of complex environmental changes with large, long-term, experiments in which they can manipulate key environmental factors.

SeaSim provides facilities for large scale, 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.

In future, SeaSim will provide facilities for the long-term holding and propagation of corals as model organisms for research. This will allow multi-generational studies, which are critical in understanding how marine organisms acclimatise and adapt to a changing environment.

Designed to encourage scientific collaboration, the facility is helping Australia realise the potential benefits of a rapidly emerging blue economy.

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

History

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

AIMS staff toured leading aquarium and marine research facilities across the world to help develop a SeaSim facility that would address the current and future needs of tropical marine research. This knowledge was integrated with expertise from industrial process designers, resulting in one of the most exciting advances in marine experimental research seen in Australia.

A prototype facility was constructed to test design concepts prior to full-scale implementation and to develop and construct suitable systems and methodologies for holding and propagating coral reef organisms.

AIMS recruited staff with skills in large public aquaria, process controls and technology, aquaculture and coral biology, adding significant value to the initial design and build phase of the Sea Simulator.

The then Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research announced the commencement of construction on 13 July 2011. The facility became operational at the beginning of 2014 and is currently undergoing defect identification and ongoing fit-outs.

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

SeaSim by numbers

SeaSim’s design specifications include:

  • 3 000 000 litres filtered seawater pumped per day (at full capacity)
  • 3 650 000 litres of bulk seawater storage capacity
  • 3022 m2 of floor area
  • 28.2 km of pipework
  • 43 seawater pumps
  • 33 seawater processing tanks
  • 3450 L hot (40 °C) seawater storage.

More information

To access the SeaSim facility for research purposes contact Dr Lyndon Llewellyn or Craig Humphrey.

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