Monitoring Group:  NOAA Beaufort Lab

The NOAA Beaufort Laboratory, (located in North Carolina) opened in 1899, is the second oldest federal marine laboratory and home to scientists from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and National Ocean Service.

Geographic focus:  Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, Kodiak Islands, Aleutians

Description: The NOAA Beaufort Lab personnel have been working closely with partners in southcentral and southwestern Alaska on Alexandrium, Pseudo-nitzschia and other HABs. We have focused much of our effort on monitoring tools and environmental regulators governing blooms. We have been working closely with partners at the NOAA Kasitsna Bay Lab, the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Alaska Sea Grant, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and other organizations. Recent and continuing projects include:

1) Monitoring tools to identify and quantify HAB species in Alaska

  • Development of quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays for Alexandrium catenella and Karenia mikimotoi.
  • Use of shellfish cages and absorptive polymers for more effective toxin monitoring.
  • Vertical sampling strategies for Alexandrium monitoring.

2) Characterization of environmental factors governing of Alexandrium blooms in Kachemak Bay

  • Identification of hydrographic and meteorological factors governing bloom development.
  • Development of forecasting capacity for bloom intensity and PSP risk.

3) Community-based monitoring for shellfish toxicity in the Kodiak and Aleutian islands

  • Monthly community shellfish sampling in five Kodiak and Aleutians villages.
  • Development of a new field test for PSP.
  • Effect of traditional cleaning and preparation methods on PSP exposure in Kodiak.

4) Transfer of PSP toxins though the marine food web during Alexandrium blooms

  • Transfer of saxitoxins from zooplankton to forage fish and other biota.
  • Occurrence of saxitoxins in salmon and other commercially important fish species.

5) Assist USGS Alaska Science Center in developing analytical testing capacity for HAB toxins in seabirds and other biota

  • Method development for HPLC and ELISA extraction methods for HAB toxins in shellfish, fish, and seabird tissues.
  • Standardization of USGS laboratory methods for toxin testing.

6) Molecular tools to identify and quantify bivalve larvae.

  • Creation of species specific genetic assays for Pacific Littleneck and Butter clams.
  • Design of labeling assays for identification and counting of commercially important bivalve larvae in plankton samples.

Primary contact:

NOAA Beaufort Lab
101 Pivers Island Road
Beaufort, NC 28516


Steve Kibler (HAB Ecology)
Phone: (252) 728-8737



Mark Vandersea (Molecular Biology)
Phone: (252) 728-8774



Rance Hardison (Toxin Analysis, Chemistry)
Phone: (252) 838-0829



Chris Holland (Toxin Analysis, HAB Culture)
Phone: (252) 728-8799



Wayne Litaker (Team Supervisor)
Phone: (252) 728-8791




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