"Floating Marine Laboratory" 2021 (ARCH7382A)
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"Floating Marine Laboratory" 2021 (ARCH7382A)

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The ocean is where all life comes from - including us humans. The ocean provides us with most of the oxygen we breathe and regulates the climate. The quality of the water is maintained by an immense number of microorganisms, and some larger animals, such as filtering animals including oysters. A single oyster can filter up to 98 liters (5 gallons) per day!

Oysters are amazing animals that help to

  • Keep water clean
  • Increase biodiversity
  • Sequester carbon
  • Protect the shorelines from storm surges and sea-level rise

But oysters are severely threatened by global warming, acidification, chemical pollution and over exploitation - so they are rapidly declining. Hong Kong oysters have been consumed by humans in the region for over a thousand years, and farmed for over 700 years!

Oysters even gave the name to the whole “Pearl River Delta” region that has recently become one of the world’s most productive high-tech industrial hubs - recently renamed the "Greater Bay". But precisely because of urbanization, pollution and over exploitation, oysters that used to be all over the coast, are now only concentrated in Deep Bay, nested between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In 2014, on the basis of pollution reports, Shenzhen’s authorities closed down all oyster farming in the mainland waters and many oyster farmers moved their oysters farming operations to the Hong Kong waters.

The consumption of local Hong Kong oysters has been declining as Hong Kongers prefer imported oysters, oyster farmers are ageing, and COVID19 closed borders created a manpower shortage for harvesting oysters which is a labour intensive work. The oyster farming industry is in crisis.

We need oysters to keep the sea clean, biodiverse, sequester carbon, protect the coast and also provide jobs, food and income for the families that have been in this way of life for over 700 years.

For that we need to develop a way to:

  1. Grow oyster better (marine biology and automation): “Oyster Hatchery” (pt 1)
  2. Build oyster rafts that are more robust and require less maintenance (naval architecture): “Ocean Farm” (pt 2)
  3. Provide oyster farmers with other income streams (IOT, and renewable energy production: solar, wind, hydrogen) “Smart Floating Laboratory” (pt 3)

For this course, in 2021, we focused on the "oyster hatchery" aspect (Marine Biology). In the previous course, in 2020, we focused on the "ocean farm" aspect (Naval Architecture). For the next course, the goal will be to integrate the oyster hatchery on the ocean farm, building the "Smart Floating Laboratory", integrating all the aspects of previous work, providing a highly innovative solution to grow native oyster larvae on site.

Oyster Hatchery (pt 1)

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Oyster lifecycle

  1. Adult males and females (at least 2 or 3 years old)
  2. Fertilised eggs (instant)
  3. Free-swimming larvae (2 weeks) - also called "Upwelling, downwelling system"
  4. Larvae attached to shell fragment (3 weeks) - also called "Bottle spat tube system"
  5. Growing on a rope or in cages underwater (at least 2 years)

So with the HKU architecture students, with the marine biology researchers we built 2 critical systems:

  • An environment to grow free-swimming larvae (2 weeks)
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This environment mimics the tide movement with upwelling and downwelling. Our specific design allows for fine control and measurement of environmental parameters such as temperature, Ph, dissolved oxygen, salinity and further sampe analysis can tell us about the chemistry of the water.

  • An environment to grow Larvae attached to shell fragment (3 weeks)
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This environment provides periodical upwelling, to optimise how oysters are fed to grow strong.

Innovations

  1. Research Faster parallel testing: Our multi-tube and the modular system makes it easier to grow the number of experiment a researcher can do in parallel
  2. Usability: space-saving, easy to use, maintain, and collaborate with other researchers in a small space with clear display. Easy snap-in, snap out, leak-free mechanism. Clearly color-coded.
  3. Continuous digital measurements: digital sensor, constantly recording
  4. Remote monitoring: with webcam researchers do not need to come to the lab to check on experiment, they can remotely see and communicate with the lab

Free-swimming larvae (2 weeks)

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Larvae attached to shell fragment (3 weeks)

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Documentation: Oyster Tube Spat Growing System

20210423_MarineBooklet.pdf6955.2KB

Process

Making of

Students

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1. Yin Yue Delancy 2. Chan Pok Kwan Patrick 3. Chen Shuhan 4. Cheng Yuk Sing Alex 5. Chiu Man Yan Lydia 6. Chung Bing Tsun 7. Feng Lingbo 8. Ho Ming Yan 9. Ma Christie Ka Hei 10. So Cheuk Lam 11. Tse Yu Ying Scarlett 12. Wei Shubo 13. Zhao Hui 14. Leung Tung Yi Sardonna 15. Ng Sze Long 16. Zhao Jinglun 17. Chui Kei Ching

Special thanks

"Rajan" Dr Vengatesen, Alberto "Tico" Aran, Mr W.T. Yan Dr Ginger Ko, Ms Nicola Cheung, Mr Vincent Lai, Prof. Kenneth Leung, Dr James Fang, Lidia Ratoi, Kristof Crolla, Violet Su, Vanessa Sigurdson, Abigail Zhao "Soonlution", Xin Dang, Kanmani Chandra Rajan, Bayden Russel, Pamela Pascual, Marine Thomas, Evan Jones, Kenneth Leung, David Baker, Gray A Williams, Matthew Pryor, Margaret Ikea, Pavel Toropov, Abbie Jung-Harada

Ocean Farm (pt 2)

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Smart Floating Laboratory (pt 3)

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Course Brief

Ia. Course Description

In this course, we will design innovative ocean science and entrepreneurship infrastructures. A floating laboratory for research and development to study the ocean and develop sustainable solutions for Hong Kong waters and the world. This course is a collaboration between Cesar Jung-Harada (Architecture Department) and Dr Vengatesen Thiyagarajan (Dr “Rajan”), Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and The Swire Institute of Marine Science of The University of Hong Kong.

The ocean is where all life comes from and our future depends on it. The ocean covers more than 70% of our planet’s surface and absorbs most of the heat from the sun, therefore controlling earth’s climate. But our oceans are mostly unexplored while being overfished, polluted with plastic, industrial and agricultural run-offs and radioactive substances. The ocean is suffering a rapid biodiversity decline without much general public awareness and more so lacking significant action to reverse this deadly trend.

(A) Research vessels tend to be very expensive, unsafe and environmentally damaging. It is a design challenge.

(B) The speed between science and impact is too slow. That is a culture, management and legal challenge.

(C) Current marine business models are unsustainable. That is an economic and environmental challenge.

Let's assume that the people involved in this project want to (C) develop commercial activities that heal the ocean, and (B) share information freely so that positive change can accelerate and spread. What would this (A) new design of floating research and development infrastructure look like and operate?

Hong Kong is a coastal city in the middle of the world's largest urban area -the Greater Bay- with over 70 million people. Hong Kong is also a biodiversity hotspot that needs to be preserved. HKU has a great ocean science faculty and easy access to the water. The Pearl River Delta is the home of large oyster production facilities. Oysters “clean” the water, but also produce delicious and nutritious protein without consuming any water resources. Oysters are also a great source of income and livel

How will we design a new type of floating maritime laboratory that is safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly? How can we improve oyster production with fast growth, minimal biofouling in a measurable manner?

Full Brief With References

Google doc (updated)