- Samples must be packed in coolers, totes, or strong, rigid boxes
- Jars should be taped closed and/or sealed with electrical tape
- Include COC and MSDS documents
- Add additional packaging material to keep jars upright and secure in shipping container
Samples collected in the field must be prepared for shipment and analysis in order to avoid degradation and to retain sample integrity (avoidance of interactions among organisms that might cause changes in the community prior to analysis). Different types of samples require different preservation protocols and in addition to the overview below, if you would like additional guidance, please contact us.
Whenever formaldehyde, formalin, or ethanol are being handled or shipped we recommend that the appropriate health and safety protocols outlined in each substance’s MSDS are closely followed.
Please find up-to-date Health and Safety documentation for each preservative below:
- Formalin (Downloadable PDF)
- Formaldehyde (Downloadable PDF)
- Ethanol (Downloadable PDF)
- Lugol’s Solution (Downloadable PDF)
- Glacial Acetic Acid (Downloadable PDF)
We recommend benthos collected from sediment samples be fixed in a solution of 10% formalin (~4% formaldehyde) following collection and prior to shipment. Although benthic invertebrate samples can be preserved in ethanol we do not recommend this practice as formalin is a “fixative” and not just a preservative. Its use creates more robust and high-quality specimens. Soft-bodied organisms such as annelids are more easily identifiable when preserved in formalin than organisms preserved in ethanol. Samples containing primarily organisms with exoskeletons (e.g. freshwater benthos, zooplankton) may be preserved in ethanol with minimal effect on the data.
Benthic invertebrate samples must remain in formalin solution for at least 24 hours at which point they are transferred into a 75% ethanol solution for analysis and long-term storage.