World Aquaculture 2023

May 29 - June 1, 2023

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia


Nabeel M. Alikunhi*, Zenon B. Batang, Paul J. Muller


King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Coastal and Marine Resources Core Laboratory, Thuwal 23955-6900, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia


Seawater Laboratories for Aquatic Biosystem Simulations (SeaLABS) of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), located on the central Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia, provides outdoor and indoor wet labs for culture experimentation under controlled or simulated environments. SeaLABS is supported by a fully automated Life Support System (LSS) that supplies different water types, aeration, power and internet connectivity in all wet labs. Here, we report the success of SeaLABS in long-term rearing of deep-sea corals (DSCs) from the Red Sea. During a KAUST scientific expedition in the Red Sea in 2013, DSC species Dasmosmilia valida, Dendrophyllia sp., Eguchipsammia fistula, and Rhizotrochus typus were collected using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), with four-function manipulator arm. After a prior search by high-resolution acoustic seabed mapping for potential DSC habitats, several ROV dives yielded live specimens that were collected using a specially designed lander with holding compartments that were closed and opened by the ROV manipulator arm. After slowly buoying up the lander and retrieved onboard the research vessel, the DSC samples were immediately transferred into acrylic tanks with seawater chilled to 21±0.50C, resembling the temperature range at their natural habitats. In the SeaLABS, the DSCs were maintained in completely dark setting through and fed with commercial frozen mysis shrimps, with proper thawing, almost twice a week. In their first four years in captivity, the DSCs were maintained in four 125-L low-density polyethylene tanks assembled in a closed-loop recirculating system, then transferred into open glass tanks with 210C chilled filtered seawater supplied by the LSS in flow-through mode at 60 L min−1. At present, the DSCs are surviving in good conditions and providing readily available live samples for various biomolecular and ecological studies. This SeaLABS experience demonstrates the feasibility of a long-term DSC culture under simulated wet lab settings.