Marine animals collected from Antarctic waters have been maintained in aquarium facilities in Antarctica and the UK by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) since 1973. The current Facility in Cambridge is the only low temperature research aquarium in the UK, and one of only three globally to regularly hold Antarctic species over extended periods. The facilities and marine animals are used by scientists and Ph.D. students at BAS and at universities, both within the UK and internationally.
In the Polar Regions where environmental change is the fastest on Earth the ability to investigate organism responses to manipulated conditions is a key requirement for UK-based ecosystem research.
The Cambridge Aquarium provides:
- The ability to perform fine-scale analyses on Antarctic species using techniques only available in Europe (e.g. NMR analyses of muscle function in scallops, nerve-muscle function analyses in isopods, and genomic analyses of regeneration in echinoderms.
- Access to biological specimens for scientists year round without having to travel to Antarctica.
- The ability to test underwater equipment in the marine environment before sending it to Antarctica (e.g. heated settlement panels).
- The ability to train junior scientists and Ph.D. students in equipment and techniques before visiting Antarctica.
- The capacity to conduct preliminary trials and develop new small projects at times in the year when access to Rothera is not available.
- The ability to conduct long-term projects manipulation conditions (e.g. ocean acidifcation studies on sea urchins assessing survival, growth, metabolism and reproductive success).
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