Warnings in the water

Lifeforms on the verge of destruction

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  • Published 20220503
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-74-0
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IT IS A muggy, unseasonably warm day in March and I am standing at the back of a building in the Australian Antarctic Division’s (AAD) headquarters on the outskirts of Hobart. I am here with Dr So Kawaguchi and Rob King. An ecologist and one of the world’s foremost experts on Antarctic krill, Kawaguchi leads AAD’s krill research projects. King is a biologist and marine research facility specialist, and for the past eight years has been the biology lead in the design process for the division’s new icebreaker, the RSV Nuyina. The two of them are about to show me one of the AAD’s most prized ­possessions: living Antarctic krill.

The two men lead me into the lab, one wall of which holds a rack of 1.5-metre-high plastic tubes. They are lit from behind and filled with bubbling water and bright-­green or dirty-­orange algae. As we pass, Kawaguchi points to one that contains algae bred from samples collected in a saline lake near Australia’s Davis Station in the early 1980s and sustained as a continuous culture ever since.

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