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The Station's main laboratory is the reef and that is where most of the work takes place. Two laboratory buildings with relevant equipment complement this unique resource.

Raymond E. Purves Laboratory

This building has been supported by the Raymond E. Purves Foundation since its construction in 1991. It was extended and refurbished most recently in 2007. It now comprises four air-conditioned rooms, a large ambient room with running seawater and wet benches, and a large covered breezeway.

Researchers who need to do messy work such as dissecting fish, sorting through rubble, chemically preserving specimens, or assembling bulky items of field gear are generally allocated space in the Purves Lab. The large ambient room and the breezeway are ideal for these purposes and this is the only area on the station where fixative chemicals are allowed. Three of the air-conditioned rooms provide general lab and office space nearby for these researchers. The fourth airconditioned room can be made completely dark and has a vibration-free bench. This is useful for optical work and other special purposes.

Thyne Reid Wing

Originally built in the early 1980s as an office, library and laboratory, this building was totally refurbished as laboratories in 2007 thanks to support from the Thyne Reid Foundation. It is fully air-conditioned and now comprises three laboratories, a microscope room and a store room for lab equipment.

Researchers whose main focus is the field and the aquarium are generally allocated space in these labs, where fixative chemicals are not allowed.

Laboratory equipment

With a small staff in a relatively remote location, LIRS does not provide a wide range of analytical equipment. Its focus is providing equipment that is relevant for observing, experimentally manipulating and recording data from living organisms and for processing samples to a stage suitable for transport to laboratories with more sophisticated facilities.

Both the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Raymond E. Purves Foundation have contributed substantial funds to provide equipment for the laboratories.

Main items of laboratory equipment are:

  • Olympus dissecting microscope with high resolution digital camera and monitor
  • Leitz Dialux 22 compound microscope with normal and fluorescence light sources
  • Numerous other dissecting microscopes
  • Cold fibre-optic light sources for microscopy
  • Autoclave
  • Laboratory oven
  • Laboratory incubator
  • Electronic balances (to 0.1 g and to 0.0001 g)
  • Centrifuge
  • 20 litre dewar for liquid nitrogen that can be filled in Cairns by prior arrangement
  • Water bath
  • Vortex
  • Fume cabinet
  • Hot plate/ stirrers
  • Distilled water maker
  • Domestic refrigerators (5 degrees C) and freezers (minus 20 degrees C)
  • Ice-making machine
  • Electrical transformers from 240 V to 110V

Equipment may be in use by others, off the island for service, or otherwise unavailable. For this reason, researchers must flag the need for particular items of equipment when booking their trips.