Small Town News
An intro to NOAAs research in Mukilteo
Meet your neighbors:
The Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Mukilteo Research Station is right on the waterfront, yet many in Mukilteo don't know what is going on in the labs there.
About 80 from the community were introduced to NOAA's Mukilteo scientists and their work at the first "Meet Your NOAA Neighbors" presentation on April 20 at Rosehill Community Center.
For nearly 40 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration station has been at the forefront of ecosystem recovery and marine pollution research in the Puget Sound. "This has been a great research site for us because it has a great central Puget Sound location, it's got a deep-water pier and it's got a great supply of fresh ocean water," said NWFSC scientist Michelle McClure.
Scientists at the Mukilteo Research Station were some of the first to study the effects of toxins on fish - such as crude oil - and are now studying the impacts of humans, including shoreline development and stormwater runoff.
"There's a crossover to fish and human health, because we're learning things for potential risks for humans exposed to oil toxicity from a lot of this work," said Nat Scholz, of the NWFSC ecotoxicology program.
Research at the station is helping NOAA and Washington state's efforts under the Puget Sound Partnership to recover the Sound by 2020, and is also helping to fill in the gaps about the conservation and recovery of endangered and threatened Pacific salmon.
The Mukilteo Research Station works to provide the science needed to conserve and manage marine species - including salmon, groundfish and the killer whale - and then-habitats in the California Current and Puget Sound.
The scientists focus on ocean toxicology, restoration of marine species and their habitats, ecosystem management, and the effects of changing environmental conditions on ocean and human health.
The Mukilteo Research Station will also soon be researching ocean acidification.
"We've already been seeing problems with acidification, such as in failures of oyster reproduction due to low pH and increased levels of C02," said Paul McElhany, lead for ocean acidification research.
McClure said NOAA is anticipating the transfer of land ownership of the Mukilteo station from the U.S. Air Force to the agency, so that the scientists can continue developing it into a state-of-the-art research center.
Future plans for the station include:
Upgraded labs for the study of ocean toxicology, restoration of marine species and ecosystems, and ocean acidification;
Increased access of seawater at the station to improve lab research;
Support for a fleet of small boats, field gear and supplies;
Addition of an outreach and education center on the waterfront about NOAA's work.
"We're hoping to increase our public education and outreach efforts, with lectures, tours, a space for students and the community, as well as internships and work study programs," McClure said.
For more information on the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, go to wwwnwfsc. noaa.gov or call 206-860-3200.
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