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Together We Do More: The Collaborative Nature of Scientific Research

December 19, 2018

Our scientists routinely work with colleagues at federal and state agencies, academic research institutions, and non-profit organizations.

Electronic measuring board being used to size a white hake.

For researchers at NOAA Fisheries' Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), collaboration, innovation, sharing a passion, and mentoring the future generation of scientists are key parts of their work.

Our scientists routinely work with colleagues at federal and state agencies, academic research institutions, and non-profit organizations. They share ideas and data, develop and carry out projects together using combined resources and expertise, publish their results together in scientific journals, and share results through popular news outlets and social media. They also help young people explore our world, encourage and guide those interested in pursuing a scientific career, and share their passion with the public, who make our work possible.

In this season of giving and sharing, we are highlighting examples of what conducting fisheries and marine science means to us from around the NEFSC: Stewardship, Collaboration, Innovation, Education, New Ideas, Cooperation, and Excitement!

James J. Howard Laboratory, New Jersey

Ecological research is the focus as researchers seek a better understanding of coastal and marine organisms and habitats and how they are affected by environmental change occurring through natural processes and human activity. Collaborators include the Institute of Marine and Coastal Studies at Rutgers University, Monmouth University, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, American Littoral Society, U.S. National Park Service, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Educational programs are also a major part of lab activity. Recently, faculty and students from the City University of New York (CUNY) visited to strengthen collaborations between the lab and NOAA-supported university programs, especially those for minority and underrepresented groups in science. Discussions focused on increasing research internships at NEFSC labs for undergraduate and graduate students in CUNY's Center for Earth Systems Science and Remote Sensing Technologies (CREST).

Milford Laboratory, Connecticut

Working closely with the shellfish industry, lab staff are developing probiotics for use in oyster hatcheries, studying aquaculture gear as habitat for marine life, conducting shellfish genetics and nutrient bioextraction research, and studying the responses of shellfish to ocean acidification. They are also looking at the potential for offshore shellfish aquaculture. Growing blue mussels at the first East Coast mussel farm permitted in U.S. federal waters was the focus of a 2018 collaboration. The 33-acre mussel farm, the second offshore shellfish farm in the nation, is seven miles off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts in the Gulf of Maine. Milford Lab staff worked with Salem State University researchers and the Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center to measure blue mussel filtration rates and record basic water quality-depth profiles. The study considered environmental factors and was designed to optimize site selection, especially suitable depth, of mussel farms in federally-managed offshore waters. Researchers at the State University of New York Stony Brook, University of Bridgeport, University of New Haven, the National Institute of Fisheries Science in Korea, and the University of Gothenberg in Sweden are but a few of their many collaborators.

Narragansett Laboratory, Rhode Island

Staff at this lab investigate changing oceanographic and ecological conditions and how they affect the productivity and health of the Northeast U.S. continental shelf ecosystem, and marine life from the smallest plankton at the base of the food chain to sharks, a top ocean predator. Students and researchers from various institutions often join us on the Ecosystems Monitoring Survey, conducted several times a year at stations along the Northeast Shelf. In another project, Cooperative Research Program staff join the crews of commercial fishing vessels in the spring and fall for the Gulf of Maine longline survey to collect data for species that live in rocky habitats. They also tag thorny skates for a collaborative project with the New England Aquarium, and collect genetic samples for a University of Florida study of the species across the region. Staff work on these projects with colleagues in the fishing industry, at the University of Rhode Island, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Atlantic Ecology Division, and many other organizations.

Woods Hole Laboratory, Massachusetts

As a partner with researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, NEFSC staff helped develop a new ocean science instrument called Deep-See. We also obtained the long fiber-optic cable needed for Deep-See to transmit high-resolution images and data, and provided the ship to test it. The towed platform, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, carries a variety of instruments and sensors to explore the Twilight Zone, an area of the ocean where light from the surface stops penetrating. Little is known about this zone, from about 200 to 1,000 meters deep, even though the largest animal migration in earth happens here every day. Other lab staff work on projects and educational programs with colleagues at:

  • New England Aquarium
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute
  • Marine Biological Laboratory
  • Sea Education Association
  • Woods Hole Research Center
  • Center for Coastal Studies
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare
  • Educational Passages
  • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
  • Many other research and academic organizations
  • Commercial fishing industry throughout the Northeast.

Orono Field Station, Maine

Researchers here are working to recover wild populations of Atlantic salmon and other fish that migrate between fresh and salt water by identifying, measuring, and minimizing threats, conserving and enhancing fish habitat, and evaluating progress toward recovery at critical life stages. Among the projects are planting Atlantic salmon eggs into gravel-bottomed Maine rivers and streams to help restore this endangered species, and tagging smolts in Maine’s Narraguagus River as well as adult salmon in the waters off West Greenland to track migration and behavior. These scientists work on projects with colleagues at many organizations, including the University of Maine, the Penobscot Nation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Atlantic Salmon Federation, U.S. Geological Survey, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization. 2019 is the International Year of the Salmon!

Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on November 21, 2023