The CCFHR Beaufort Laboratory is the home for two NOAA line offices, the National Ocean Service (NOS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and has a location uniquely suited to the fulfillment of NOAA missions.
- physically located less than 1 mile from the Beaufort Inlet and Port of Morehead City
- convenient access to important biogeographical and ecological boundaries such as Cape Hatteras and the Gulf Stream
- within 20 km of the second largest estuarine complex on the east coast (Pamlico/Albemarle Sound)
- nearby estuarine and coastal ocean ecosystems for field studies
- adjacent to the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Estuarine Research Reserve
- North Carolina’s temperate climate allows field research to be conducted throughout the entire year
The Beaufort Laboratory provides scientific information to coastal managers useful in their roles as coastal stewards and decision makers. NOAA managed marine sanctuaries and estuarine reserves as well as estuaries and coastal waters are areas of special emphasis. We describe, map, and characterize coastal habitats such as salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs to develop an understanding of the processes that determine their functioning and utilization by humans and other species. A primary use of this knowledge is to plan and monitor restoration of damaged habitats. In addition, the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas is a related subject of current research.
Fisheries research, conducted by the NMFS component, emphasizes development of stock assessments for commercially important species in the South Atlantic and Gulf coasts. This work involves understanding critical life history characteristics and the impact of harvest, environmental variability and natural mortality on population dynamics. Reef fish and menhaden populations are of special concern with long-term data sets exceeding thirty years. Supporting research includes habitat dependence, ecosystem modeling, food web definition, physiology, genetics, and oceanography. Marine mammal and sea turtle biological studies are conducted to better sustain these protected species.