Containerised Science expanding the RSV Nuyina’s capability 

In a world first, two unique aquariums for Antarctic krill are being deployed on Australia’s new icebreaker, RSV Nuyina. 

An Australian Antarctic Division team designed the aquaria, and mechanical plant needed to run them, to fit inside 20-foot shipping containers that can be attached to Nuyina’s deck and plugged directly into the ship’s services. 

The end result is a system that can control the temperature of seawater no matter the location of the vessel, and maintain two aquaria containers at different temperatures, anywhere from −1.5°C to 15°C.  

A critical part of the success of the system is the mechanical plant, which includes a chiller and associated coolant reservoir, water pumps, heat exchangers for manipulating water temperatures, and an automated control system. 

The clever design utilises clean seawater to be keep animals healthy and maintain the same water temperature from where they were collected. This allows for animals from sub-Antarctic to colder Antarctic waters to be safely held in separate climate controlled tanks for the entire voyage and back home. 

The containerised aquaria will improve the survival rate of krill and other organisms during their transfer from ship to shore – where they’ll be used in experiments on krill behaviour, physiology and response to climate change. 

Researchers from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania will be utilising the Aquarium containers in an upcoming Denman Marine Voyage. 

Krill biologist Rob King checks the filters in the tanks that will hold krill caught in Antarctic waters. Photo: Dan Broun

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