At any one time, the facility supports a variety of projects including the study of various species of fin fish, coral, algae, crabs, prawns, turtles, squid, holothurians, and echinoderms, as well as projects considering physical effects such as plastic degradation or seagrass dispersal.

Located at the JCU Townsville campus, MARF features eight large recirculating marine water systems supplying outdoor, undercover, and indoor lab areas as well as twenty-one indoor temperature controlled research labs, eleven of which have their own dedicated recirculating life support systems for high resolution or specifically modified research projects.

  • Over 1.4 million litres of seawater is continuously circulating through biological filters and algal scrubbers to help maintain exceptional water quality
  • Three separate aquarium compounds supporting 21 research laboratories with temperature and light control
  • Salt and freshwater research systems
  • A teaching facility equipped with a lecture theater and adjacent wet lab incorporating two recirculating life support systems
  • All research labs and operating systems are supported by an alarm system which can monitor any required parameter. MARF staff are on call 24/7 to resolve any issues out of hours

Coral reef studies

MARF is the central testing facility for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE).

We provide the physical labs the Coral CoE needs for its research into the effects of water quality, temperature, light, and climate change indicators on the organisms of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef. The facility's close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef allows researchers to collect samples and transport them quickly to the testing labs.

Macroalgae and biotechnology

The Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology (MACRO) researches the possibilities of macroalgae for fuel, feed and fertiliser purposes requires large-scale aquatic environments for growing and testing. MARF provides the fully-supported outdoor and undercover facilities vital to around 75% of MACRO’s research and testing activities.

MACRO, with the help of MARF, has developed several novel uses for algae in the management of waste. In conjunction with industry partners such as CSIRO and Meat and Livestock Australia, the Centre has developed an algal feedstock option that reduces cattle methane production by over 90%. It has also found algae to be useful in removing nutrients from water. This solution is currently in use at the Cleveland bay wastewater treatment plant, seeing nitrogen content reduced by one third and phosphorous content by two thirds. This project is also being trialled in commercial fish farms to clean water before it gets into the ecosystem, enabling the fish farming industry greater options for expansion with limited environmental impact.