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Seawater Laboratory

Photo of seawater experimental tanks
Photo of seawater experimental tanks

The seawater laboratory complex is one of the most desirable features of the Kodiak Fisheries Research Center. The complex consists of a seawater system, a large open laboratory, three cold rooms, a water quality laboratory, and a food preparation laboratory. The complex is immediately adjacent to the Shellfish Assessment Program laboratory and microscope room in order to facilitate examination of cultured or experimental animals. Water from this complex seawater system feeds into the Shellfish Assessment Program laboratory and the University of Alaska Fairbanks instructional laboratory, as well as the downstairs display area. Improved knowledge of early life history is a particular focus of the seawater laboratory and results will serve both to improve stock assessment and evaluate the potential for aquaculture or stock enhancement.

The complex seawater system consists of intakes and pumps. From the pump house, raw seawater is pumped to the top of an obelisk-like tower at the northeast end of the building. This tower is the highest point in the building and gravity flow distributes seawater within the building as necessary. Some of the water passes through sand filters and some is left unfiltered. Filtered seawater is frequently desirable for experimental purposes and in areas such as aquariums, where control of species composition and avoidance of fouling organisms is essential. Unfiltered seawater is used when a more natural system is required, especially when maintaining filter feeders such as clams or tunicates.

Photo of red king crab held in small totes for larval collection
Red king crab held for larval collection.

All laboratories in the Kodiak Laboratory are supplied with one filtered and two unfiltered seawater lines. Each unfiltered line is used for 2 weeks and then allowed to become anoxic (oxygen-depleted) before being back-flushed with fresh water and reconditioned with saltwater. This procedure is meant to control fouling on the inside of the lines. Outflow goes into floor drains or piped through an ozone contact system for disinfection. The ozone system is critical for research involving known potential epizootic pathogens that may be implicated in king crab, Tanner crab, and snow crab population dynamics. All portions of the seawater laboratory and the cold rooms are also served by freshwater for wash down and low pressure air for oxygenation.

The general seawater laboratory and the three associated cold rooms are designed to conduct experiments in a controlled environment that are easily cross-correlated or verified through observations and experiments conducted in adjacent bays or ocean areas. The three cold rooms (each 150 sq ft) are intended to provide strict temperature control for at least three levels in experiments conducted in small to medium-sized containers. They also offer obvious advantages relative to controlled photoperiod or other variables where strict isolation is desirable.

The general seawater laboratory is intended for much larger experiments where control is not as critical or where experiment-specific devices are constructed to provide environmental controls. The laboratory has an open design allowing for many tanks or experimental units to operate. The seawater laboratory opens to a gear loft which opens to the exterior through large garage type doors and this entire area is fork lift compatible. This set up allows for movement and manipulation of large tanks as well as easy transporation of experimental animals from shipboard to the laboratory in large containers.

Kodiak Laboratory - Home Page

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