The South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre (SAASC) is home to the SARDI Aquatic Sciences group.
The centre is located at West Beach on the shores of Gulf St Vincent, 10 kilometres west of the central business district of Adelaide and just minutes from the city's airport.
The centre provides South Australia and temperate Australia with a comprehensive marine and freshwater research capability. The centre focuses research on five main areas of research:
- Wild fisheries
- Marine Environment & Ecology
- Inland Waters & Catchment Ecology
Buildings at the West Beach site first began in 1987 with the aquaria room (Block D) becoming operational in 1988. By 1991, a state of the art filtered seawater and freshwater supply system was completed. The final stage of the Centre was commissioned in December 1993. The South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre is among the most comprehensive research facility of it's type in Australia.
The main focus of the SAASC is to undertake research and development activities to enable sustainable development of South Australia’s commercial and recreational fishing in addition to aquaculture industries. By conducting research and finding out as much as we can about the biology and behaviour of aquatic organisms, we can be better manage on a sustainable basis our marine & freshwater ecosystems, for current and future generations.
Research and development undertaken by SARDI at the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre benefits and adds value to the State's commercial fishing and aquaculture industries, which are worth more approx $500 AUD million annually.
Some examples of the type of research conducted include:
- Determining the size and/or age structure of fish populations including the major commercial fish species such as abalone, rock lobster, prawns, snapper, garfish, and Australian sardines (largest fishery in Australia).
- Conducting surveys to measure the impact of fishing effort on fish stocks.
- Assessing the status of marine and freshwater habitats.
- Developing and researching the best performing manufactured diets for aquaculture.
- Conducting trials on the suitability of various species for aquaculture.
- Monitoring oceanic variables such as waves, currents and winds to understand the role of oceans in shaping climate change.
This research may be carried out in conjunction with fishers (commercial and recreational) and other educational and State institutions e.g. Universities, Department of Primary Industries Victoria, CSIRO.
SAASC Scientific Support Facilities
The South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre is a purpose-built marine and freshwater research complex supporting more than 120 research scientists and support staff with a diverse range of scientific, technical, analytical and specialist skills. It contains a vast array of infrastructure or scientific support facilities that enable the scientific staff and visiting scientists or collaborators to cost effectively undertake research into the aquatic environment. Without some of the facilities, staff would be unable to carry out a large majority of their research except in the field or less effectively.
Some of the features of the Centre include:
- Lecture Theatre - 110 seat lecture theatre with the full suite of audio-video facilities
- Conference Room - with seating capacity for 40, a/v equipment and teleconferencing facilities
- Library – specialist & comprehensive aquatic sciences reference library
- Image Analysis Rooms - fully equiped image analysis rooms
- Laboratories – 9 laboaratories equipped for general and specialised research
- Building Management System (BMS) - The BMS is at the heart of the sophisticated computer monitoring system at the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre. This system controls and monitors the building environment, and all fish life support systems including water supply, water temperature, aeration and filtration. The system is capable of monitoring, maintaining and controlling tanks in the aquarium room and can log a range of tank parameters (eg salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH) direct to a computer data base for later analysis.
- Seawater and Freshwater Supply - Four inlet / outlet pipes extend various distances to 1.5 km offshore designed to deliver a maximum of 1500 litres of seawater per minute (1.8 million litres per day). Primary treatment consists of automated primary sieves and three 50 kl settlement tanks before sand filtration and storage in two 100 kl tanks. Delivery to indoor and outdoor aquaria is via sand filters after which the water can be filtered further or UV sterilised as needed. Waste water is treated by sand filtration, chlorination and UV sterilisation before discharge. The entire system can be placed in recirculation mode if required. Freshwater can be provided at 500 litre per minute from an underground bore on the site. Continual monitoring of both inlet and outlet systems ensures the high quality of water, see the plan (.pdf).
- Pool Farm - The modern pool farm has over 80 separate tanks for research. These consist of a variety of free standing tanks including 2 fibreglass tanks (40,000 kl) ideal for use as large replicated mesocosms for maintaining fish in simulated natural conditions or for maintaining and conditioning brood stock. Additional tanks consist of 36 of 1 kilolitre capacity, 36 at 5 kl, 4 at 10 kl and 4 with a capacity of 20 kilolitres. All tanks have separate water points supplying fresh and/or recirculated seawater within the pool farm together with provision of aeration and most tanks have supply points providing freshwater and filtered sea water. Monitoring of water quality and experimental variables has been made user - friendly via a web based management system recently incorporated in the West Beach research facility.
- Indoor Aquaria Room - The 250 metre2 indoor aquaria room is serviced with 200 litres of salt water per minute and 150 litres of freshwater per minute and has 32 temperature programmable tank points (15–30°C). A large number of moveable, free standing tanks of varying size provide for a highly versatile work environment. Available tanks range in capacity from 1 tonne fibreglass and plastic tanks, to numerous plastic 15-litre tanks. This caters for replication of experiments and for a range of animal sizes or types.
- Coastal Fin-fish Hatcheries - The facility has recently completed two hatcheries for the conditioning of fin-fish broodstock and larval grow-out. The purpose of the hatcheries is to supply scientists with fertilised eggs, larvae and fingerlings for research into morphology and ontogenetic development together with optimal grow-out conditions. The hatcheries are also set-up for rearing of fingerlings under semi-commercial conditions and small-scale supply to industry for pilot scale assessment of grow-out under commercial conditions.
- Modern Laboratories - Spacious, well-equipped laboratories include a dedicated wet laboratory for primary sample processing with direct access to a preserved sample store and walk-in cold (4°C) and freezer (–30°C) rooms. All laboratories are fitted with freshwater and seawater supplies, ample bench space and computer network connections.
- Aquaculture Laboratory - Adjoining the indoor aquaria room, the aquaculture laboratory provides researchers with direct access to autoclave facilities, balance and microscope room, biological hood for a sterile working environment, feed preparation room with feed mixer and cold press-extrusion equipment and two dedicated controlled environment rooms.
- Fish Aging Laboratory - A modern fish-aging laboratory has been established for otolith reading. The laboratory has specialised embedding and sectioning equipment, binocular and compound microscopes, and the latest computer image analysis systems for the enhancement of the otolith images and rapid fecundity analyses.
- Controlled Environment Rooms (CER) - The Centre has four programmable controlled environment rooms to enable the simulation of a range of seasonal or climatic conditions. Each CER room is supplied with electricity, together with ambient seawater and freshwater. Room specifications are 0–100% humidity, day length and light intensity control and 0–40oC temperature control. Each CER has facilities for recirculation systems for maintenance of aquatic life at specific temperatures.