This research station, which once served as a World War II military barrack, is located on the waterfront of Puget Sound in Mukilteo, Washington.
What We Do
The Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s Mukilteo Research Station has been at the forefront of ecosystem recovery and marine pollution research in the Puget Sound for nearly four decades. NOAA’s Mukilteo scientists were among the first to conduct studies on the effects of contaminants on fish health in Puget Sound, and are currently exploring the ecological impacts of human activity, including shoreline development and stormwater runoff – all critical priorities for NOAA and Washington State’s efforts under the Puget Sound Partnership to recover the Sound by 2020.
Important features of the research facility include:
- Access to large volumes of high-quality seawater supporting a wide range of sensitive studies on marine fish species, shellfish, and their habitats.
- A waterfront facility with a deep water pier, enabling live specimens to be immediately transferred from research vessels to laboratories.
- A central Puget Sound location with convenient small boat access to multiple salmon estuaries and other field research locations.
- Proximity to the University of Washington and the NWFSC headquarters in Seattle, creating opportunities for collaboration with NWFSC and UW scientists and students.
- Specialized laboratories for investigating how marine species are responding to increasing ecosystem-scale pressures, from ocean acidification to toxic stormwater runoff.
- A collaborative work environment for scientists, educators, and students.
- A site that is highly visible within the community, and therefore uniquely suited for science communication and public engagement.
The structural integrity of the 70+-year-old facility has severely deteriorated. Condition assessments confirm that in its current state, the facility can only remain operational until 2020, after which the building will be deemed too unsafe for inhabitants. With thanks to Congress, NOAA received $4.6M in FY 2017 to cover the design and environmental work needed to prepare for the construction of a new building. With additional support from Congress, the new facility will include:
- Upgraded, state-of-art laboratories for aquatic toxicology, restoration of marine species and ecosystems, and ocean acidification.
- Increased seawater flow capacity, improving existing laboratory studies and allowing for more research.
- Improved infrastructure to support a fleet of small boats, field gear, and supplies.
- An outreach and education center along the planned waterfront promenade which will expand public outreach about NOAA and its work.
Research at the Mukilteo Research Station focuses on understanding the life cycle of marine species and the impacts of ecosystem stressors on anadromous and marine fish and invertebrates.
- Studies on the effect of chemical contaminants (e.g., crude oil, pesticides, and metals in stormwater run-off) and naturally occurring toxins (e.g., algal blooms, viral and bacterial pathogens) on the health of fish and other marine organisms.
- Studies on cultured marine species (e.g., rockfish, pinto abalone) to investigate the impacts of overfishing, habitat loss, and other factors.
- Investigations on the effectiveness of restoration strategies in Puget Sound ecosystems to recover juvenile salmon and other species.
- Studies on the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems, including the marine food webs and species of economic importance, such as oysters and crabs.
- Studies on the basic characteristics of the Puget Sound ecosystem and how they might be affected by human influences.
Community Outreach Activities
NOAA Teacher in the Lab program to train high school teachers in the conservation genetics of marine life. Professional preparation and training of future scientists through undergraduate and graduate student internships. Interaction with youth groups, schools, and local clubs to improve public understanding of marine issues and promote environmental stewardship.
Paul McElhany, Ph.D.