Atlantis Divers Exploration Sciences

Current Projects

Current Aqua Lab II Project

Going on now at Atlantis Divers: Aqua Lab II Life Cycle Experiment 2016 ALP-0001

Spirulina Algae

Phase one (Cultivating Spirulina)

Spirulina is a simple one-celled microscopic blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria). There are two species, Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima. The Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima species were once classified in the genus Spirulina. There is now agreement that they are in fact Arthrospira; nevertheless, and somewhat confusingly, the older term Spirulina remains in use for historical reasons.

Along with being a vital part of the food chain and an excellent biofuel source. Several studies have also shown that Spirulina, or its extracts, can prevent or inhibit cancers in humans, animals, and fish. Some forms of cancer are the result of damaged cell DNA, causing rapid and uncontrolled cell growth. Cellular biologists have now defined a system of special enzymes called endonucleases, which repair damaged DNA to keep cells alive and healthy. When these enzymes are deactivated by oxidation, radiation or toxins, errors in DNA go unrepaired and cancer may develop. In vitro studies suggest that the unique polysaccharides of Spirulina enhance cell nucleus enzyme activity and DNA repair synthesis. This may be why several scientific studies, observing experimental cancers in animals, report high levels of suppression of several important types of cancer in the presence of Spirulina extracts.

Brine shrimp will be fed Spirulina during larval stage.


Phase two (Cultivating Phytoplankton)

Phytoplankton, also known as microalgae, are similar to terrestrial plants in that they contain chlorophyll and require sunlight in order to live and grow. Most phytoplankton are buoyant and float in the upper part of the ocean, where sunlight penetrates the water. Phytoplankton also require inorganic nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates, and sulfur which they convert into proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

The two main classes of phytoplankton are dinoflagellates and diatoms. Dinoflagellates use a whip-like tail, or flagella, to move through the water and their bodies are covered with complex shells. Diatoms also have shells, but they are made of a different substance and their structure is rigid and made of interlocking parts. Diatoms do not rely on flagella to move through the water and instead rely on ocean currents to travel through the water.

In a balanced ecosystem, phytoplankton provide food for a wide range of sea creatures including whales, shrimp, snails, and jellyfish. When too many nutrients are available, phytoplankton may grow out of control and form harmful algal blooms (HABs). These blooms can produce extremely toxic compounds that have harmful effects on fish, shellfish, mammals, birds, and even people.

Phytoplankton will be fed to Zooplankton.


Zooplankton is the common name given to many small species of animals found in fresh and marine waters throughout the world. The word zooplankton, derived from Greek, means "wandering animals." They float in the water column and drift with the currents. Most of these animals are so minute they are visible only with a microscope, although some species can reach lengths of eight feet. Two general groups of zooplankton exist: those that remain planktonic throughout their entire life (holoplankton), and those that are larval stages of larger life forms (meroplankton).

Jellyfish are the largest example of holoplankton. They remain in the planktonic zone for life and can grow as large as 8 feet, with tentacles up to 200 feet. Meroplankton are eggs and larvae of nearly all species of fish and benthic invertebrates. These creatures are planktonic during their developing stages and will eventually settle out of the planktonic zone as juveniles. Of the numerous species, the most abundant and diverse are copepods. Copepods are crustaceans with a tough exoskeleton composed of calcium carbonate, and their bodies are divided into three sections: the head, thorax, and abdomen. Two antennae protrude from the head and aid in swimming, while two to four pairs of appendages extend from the thorax.

Zooplankton migrate vertically in the water column each day, feeding on the phytoplankton, small floating plants such as algae, near the surface of the water. Zooplankton have adapted various mechanisms to float in the water column and protect themselves from predation. Some, such as larval crustaceans, have spikes that protect them and allow more surface area for better flotation. Some species of fish larvae have oil globules that give them added buoyancy.

Zooplankton are a critical element in the food chain and are preyed upon by every filter-feeding organism including shellfish, fish, and whales. The baleen whales feed entirely on zooplankton, especially one species in particular called krill. Copepods and other zooplankton feed on phytoplankton and are the first link between the primary producers and larger animals. They are by far the most abundant group of animals in the world's oceans.

The Zooplankton will then be fed to the Brine Shrimp (Artemia).


Brine shrimp

Phase three (hatching and cultivating brine shrimp)

Brine shrimp are crustaceans that inhabit salty waters around the world, both inland and on the coast. It is currently accepted that one species, Artemia franciscana, is the only brine shrimp species that inhabits the Great Salt Lake, but there is discussion of genetic and life-history variability that could result in more species being discovered (see Parthenogenesis and shrimp genetics). The average adult male brine shrimp is 0.3-0.4 inches long, and the average female is 0.4-0.5 inches long. They feed by directing food towards their mouth via a series of undulating appendages and digest food through a simple digestive tract. In the process, they ingest a lot of salt water, which must be excreted through gills called "branchia". They can survive in water with salinities ranging from 30–330 g/l (3% to 33% salinity).

Brine shrimp will be fed to Juvenile Sea Horses.

Sea Horses

Phase Four (nursery bench isolation tank)

The Latin name for seahorse is Hippocampus which means "Horse Caterpillar"

Seahorses are fish. They live in water, breath through gills and have a swim bladder. However, they do not have caudal fins and have a long snake-like tail. They also have a neck and a snout that points down.

There are two species around British Coastline, the Spiny Seahorse (Hippocampus Guttulatus) and the Short Snouted Seahorse (Hippocampus Hippocampus).

Both British Seahorses can be found from the Shetland Isles down the west coast of the UK (and all around Ireland) and along the south coast of England; we also have sightings of Seahorses on the east coast and a few years ago they were found in the North Sea.

Seahorses have excellent eyesight and their eyes are able to work independently on either side of their head. This means they can look forwards and backwards at the same time! This is particularly useful as they hunt for food by sight.

Seahorses live in shallow weedy areas, especially eel grass beds. In winter they move into deeper waters to escape the rough weather.

There are about 54 species of seahorses worldwide, and possibly as many sub-species. It is often difficult for scientists to identify seahorses because individuals of the same species can vary greatly in appearance. New species continue to be found.

After full size and health juveniles will be transferred to the Aqua Lab Bio Cube.

Aqua Lab Bio Cube

Phase Five (Aqua Lab Bio Cube environment)

Ocean environment for adult invertebrates, sea horses and other beneficial specimens to co-habitat in a symbiotic environment. Phytoplankton and shrimp will continue to be added as primary food source.

Next update:  May 2016





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