Earlier this month, over 200 people visited the NOAA Beaufort Lab during its first open house in 19 years. Visitors to the lab in Beaufort, North Carolina were treated to guided tours complete with hands-on activities such as harmful algal bloom identification, remotely operated vehicle operation, aquaculture feeding, and Spartina alterniflora planting in a "living shoreline." Lab staff highlighted protected species research (specifically, sea turtles and marine mammals); demonstrated a turtle exclusion device, which allows captured turtles to escape fishermen's nets; and provided information on artifacts, shells, and research applications.
Local partners with the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve filled a classroom with scientific activities for kids, including: water quality monitoring, plankton identification, marine critter coloring, and a wild horse information station. Staff also made estuary-themed games available for visiting kids. The National Weather Service participated as well, with an outreach and demonstration table.
Clear weather during the open house allowedthe lab campus itself to be its own attraction as visitors enjoyed sitting in the shade and watching boats go by between activities. The living shoreline planting was a tour favorite, with 100 plants added to the site. The event was a success due to the collective efforts of the NOAA Beaufort Lab, North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, the National Weather Service, and volunteers.
A local business owner who guides bike tours of Beaufort attended the event to gather information about the lab thatshe could share on her tours. Other residents stated that they had no idea how much science and outreach was happening in the middle of the community. Many asked if the open house would become an annual event.
The NOAA Beaufort Laboratory is the second oldest federal marine lab and has been part of the eastern North Carolina community since 1899. The unique locationhouses two related and complementary NOAA programs: the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the National Ocean Service's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. Co-located with the two NOAA line offices is the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve.
For more information, contact Jenny.VanderPluym.