What We Do
The Milford Laboratory, a world leader in aquaculture science, was established at the request of Connecticut’s oyster industry to help expand sustainable oyster harvests. Over the lab's illustrious history, NOAA scientists, working closely with industry and academia, have made fundamental contributions to the understanding of shellfish biology and reproduction (see "History," below). Today, the Milford Lab continues to conduct state-of-the-art science that informs management for the sustainable expansion of aquaculture, provides services to the shellfish aquaculture industry, and advances new technologies through collaborative research.
Part of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the Milford Lab is located about 70 miles northeast of New York City on Long Island Sound in Milford, Connecticut. The lab employs approximately 20 full-time Federal research staff, with collaboration from contractors, visiting scientists, support staff and students. The scientific resources of the Milford Lab include a microalgal culture collection, a shellfish hatchery and tank farm, a flow cytometry facility, and a 49-foot research vessel, the R/V Victor Loosanoff.
Current projects include developing probiotics for use in oyster hatcheries, studying aquaculture gear as habitat for marine life, nutrient bioextraction studies, shellfish genetics research, offshore shellfish aquaculture potential, and responses of shellfish to ocean acidification. For more information, please go to the "Research" tab.
Milford Lab History
In 1931, Dr. Victor Loosanoff became the first full-time scientist in Milford using science to solve the biological problems facing Connecticut's oyster industry. Under his leadership, the Milford Laboratory made fundamental contributions to the understanding of shellfish biology and reproduction. Methodology was developed to spawn bivalve shellfish nearly year-round and to rear all life stages (embryonic, larval, and adult). This became known as the “Milford Method” and is still used worldwide in the aquaculture industry. Geneticists developed strains of shellfish with desirable traits, such as rapid growth. Mixtures of algae were cultured to support each shellfish life stage. This became the Milford Lab culture collection, established by Dr. Robert R.L. Guillard in the 1950s and built upon by Dr. Ravenna Ukeles throughout the 1960s-1980s. Scientists and industry professionals from around the world have used samples from this extensive algal library.
Since its founding, the lab has worked closely with the shellfish industry to help solve problems and increase production. Due to increased interest in the 1970s, Milford researchers investigated methods for culturing species such as bay scallops, surfclams, and hard clams. The lab became part of NOAA in the 1970s and research was broadened to reflect the fisheries management priorities of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Studies emphasized the impacts of environmental conditions and manmade stresses on the biological processes of various marine species. In particular, Milford scientists investigated the effects of heavy metals and organic compounds on the biological functions of key marine organisms, documenting which pollutants were causing specific effects.
With a focus on domestic seafood production, the Milford Lab continues to be a world leader in aquaculture science. The lab conducts research that informs the management and expansion of sustainable aquaculture, as well as seeks to understand interactions between aquaculture practices and the environment.
Milford Lab Facilities
Heated and filtered seawater is available to raise many species of bivalve larvae in Milford Laboratory’s hatchery. Adult shellfish are conditioned for spawning and their larvae are reared in 400-liter conical tanks. Trays and indoor raceways receive unfiltered seawater with natural phytoplankton to grow post-set shellfish to a “seed” size. Many of the shellfish rearing methods developed here are used worldwide and referred to as the “Milford Method”. A hatchery manual for the production of bay scallops has been developed by lab staff.
For more information, please contact David Veilleux.
The NOAA Diving Program, Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, Milford Unit, is composed of a Unit Diving Supervisor (an Advanced Diver) and several NOAA Divers. Sub-units include Divers at many locations in the Northeastern United States. Their mission is to facilitate the advancement of research of the aquatic environment and to enter that environment using the knowledge and tools necessary to fulfill the mission safely. From inspecting and servicing the hulls of ships, deploying, retrieving, and tending oceanographic equipment, to biological surveys and collecting specimens, NOAA divers go where they are needed.
For more information, contact Barry Smith.
An important and unique resource in the Milford Laboratory is the Flow-cytometry Facility. An integrated suite of labs contains a BD Biosciences FACScan analytical instrument, an Accuri C6 portable cytometer, a new JSAN sorting cytometer, a Zeiss Axioskop 2 fluorescence microscope with custom optics and filter cube to match cytometer detectors, and a prep room. This integrated facility enables development of new methods and protocols, with confirmation of analytical cytometric data by sorting and microscope observation. These combined capabilities are especially important for analyses of “unknown” samples, such as natural phytoplankton assemblages. Main applications are with hemocytes, essentially blood cells, in bivalve mollusks, and with microalgae.
For more information, contact Gary Wikfors.
The Greenhouse for Research on Algal Mass Production Systems (GRAMPS) was designed and constructed to research culture methods, techniques, and strategies for growing large quantities of microalgal biomass for such uses as in hatcheries to feed shellfish or zooplankton eaten by finfish larvae, and in biofuels and other novel products. GRAMPS is a unique research asset with a curved, sun-facing surface to maximize natural light usage, computer monitoring and control systems, and a modular culture apparatus.For more information on the greenhouse, contact Barry Smith.
Our culture collection was established by Dr. Robert R.L. Guillard in the mid-1950s and built by Dr. Ravenna Ukeles throughout the 1960s-1980s. Over 230 strains are archived in the collection currently; all are perpetuated by periodic, serial subculture in enriched seawater, artificial seawater, and semi-solid media. Most strains are bacteria-free. The collection includes representatives from most of the major microalgal Classes and essentially all strains used in aquaculture world-wide. The microalgal collection serves as a resource for our research and a part of our outreach and “extension” activities with the commercial aquaculture community; we provide starter cultures to shellfish hatcheries throughout the US.
For more information, contact Lisa Guy.
The mass-culture room is a large (1,100ft2) room with light, shelf, and air/carbon dioxide-distribution systems to accommodate 36 20 liter carboy assemblies and four 500 liter open tanks for microalgal culture. The carboy units, designed for aseptic, semi-continuous culture, have proven effective in producing algal biomass for nutritional and biochemical studies, experiments on harmful-algal interactions with mollusks, and for feeding shellfish and finfish live-feeds in all Milford Laboratory research programs. The microalgal mass culture room is a unique and valuable resource for research, dependably producing kilograms of microalgal biomass with consistent biochemical quality. Dr. Ravenna Ukeles designed this room in the late 1960s for the large-scale culture of microalgae under controlled, near-clean-room conditions.
For more information, contact Mark Dixon
The lab has two flow‐through seawater ocean acidification experimental systems, each consisting of equilibrium chambers supplied by a tank of compressed research grade CO2 and an air compressor, and controlled by mass flow controllers. One flow through system runs on raw seawater, while the other uses a drum filter to filter out particles 0.35 µm in diameter and larger (for ‘unfed’ experimental treatments). Each system allows researchers to conduct CO2 exposure studies with marine organisms using up to three consistent pH and pCO2 treatments, while holding flow rate, temperature, salinity, and other variables constant. The lab also has a static water system, which uses mass flow controllers and a CO2 tank to control the pCO2 in a closed container.For more information, please contact Shannon Meseck
The “tank farm,” which covers a sizable area of approximately 24,000 square feet, comprises 45 outdoor (12,000 s.f.), and 14 indoor raceway and 12 circular tanks (12,000 s.f.) for aquaculture at the Milford Laboratory. The building component, as seen in the photo, is heated for year-round use and currently is operating with running seawater primarily for economically and ecologically valuable bivalve shellfish such as scallops and oysters, but also other organisms, including finfish, lobsters, and crabs. Environmental variables, such as temperature, salinity, D.O., and pH can be measured with a monitoring unit that has remote access capability. The Milford Lab is one of a few facilities in the U.S. that houses genetic lines of cultured shellfish bred and maintained over a number of generations. These various genetic lines are maintained for culture, enhancement, and restoration, as well as for distribution to industry, municipalities, schools, researchers and other stakeholders. This system simulates to some extent what occurs in nature with raw seawater under semi-natural conditions for studies of the complete culture process from hatchery to nursery and growout of marine species.
For more information on the tank farm, please contact David Veilleux.
The NOAA Research Vessel Victor Loosanoff is operated by NOAA Fisheries, Northeast Fisheries Science Center. The R/V Loosanoff primarily supports research at the Milford Laboratory in Connecticut. The 49-foot Loosanoff was transferred to NOAA from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2001 and converted to an inshore, fisheries and oceanographic research vessel in 2002. The vessel is equipped to operate as a day-boat within 20 nautical miles of shore. A laboratory area is located below deck in two separate spaces. Typically, the vessel can operate without refueling for five, 8-hour work days, with mixed-speed cruising. Sampling gear including trawls, water and sediment sampling devices, plankton nets, live cars and sorting tables. The laboratory also maintains and operates 17’ and 22’ Boston Whalers.
For more information, contact LT Erick Estela.
The primary mandates of NOAA Fisheries are to use sound science to manage and conserve the nation's ocean resources and habitats and to ensure their renewability for the future. Although our techniques have advanced over the years, the Milford Laboratory has always made strong positive contributions to meeting these objectives.
Present research at the Milford Laboratory emphasizes aquaculture and ecosystem-related work. Our well integrated aquaculture research program evaluates current and proposed marine aquaculture practices for technical effectiveness, environmental compatibility, and sustained commercial success. Working closely with industry partners, we provide aquaculture science and develop new methods and technologies to enhance production. In addition, we study the interactions between aquaculture practices and coastal marine habitats and species. Our research supports the sustainable expansion of domestic aquaculture.
Our scientists are trained in a wide variety of disciplines, including chemistry, ecology, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, immunology, bacteriology, algology, and pathology. The versatility of both the facility and the staff at the Milford Laboratory make this unique blend of research possible.
Hatchery production of bivalve shellfish seed for commercial grow-out or restoration can be constrained by bacteriosis in tank-cultured larval stages. Environmentally-friendly methods for controlling microbial pathogenesis with probiotic bacteria are becoming increasingly preferred over repeated use of antibiotics, which can select for resistant pathogens in the environment. Research at the Milford Laboratory has identified a Vibrio sp. bacterium (OY15), isolated from Eastern oysters, that significantly improves survival of larval oysters (Crassostrea virginica) challenged with a Vibrio sp. shellfish-larval pathogen (B183). Possible mechanisms of OY15’s probiotic effect appear to be stimulation of immune function. Studies to confirm that probiotic bacteria generally are effective because of immune-stimulation have been completed using gene-expression analysis to demonstrate regulation of certain immune genes in larvae following treatment with OY15. Based upon these results, we have developed a functionally-based screening protocol for testing of probiotic candidates employing these in vitro immune-function assays using hemocytes from adult bivalves. Molluscan shellfish hatcheries across the U.S. will benefit from eventual availability of probiotic bacteria as a component of “functional feeds,” to increase seed production, and will contribute directly to the objectives of the NOAA Shellfish Initiative.
In efforts to commercialize probiotic strain OY15 as a safe, stable and cost-effective product for the commercial oyster aquaculture industry, the Milford Laboratory, with guidance from NOAA’s Technology Partnerships Office, has advanced work on oyster probiotics by negotiating partnerships with private industry through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) and several Material Transfer Agreements.
In September 2016, Diane Kapareiko, Gary Wikfors and Dorothy Jeffress (Ecosystems and Aquaculture Division, Aquaculture Sustainability Branch) were awarded the Department of Commerce Silver Medal in recognition of developing the environmentally-friendly and safe probiotic bacterial strain OY15 which prevents bacteriosis and improves survival of oyster larvae, as well as negotiating a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with private industry to advance commercialization.
A major focus of the Genetics research program is to investigate the application of genetics and breeding technology for improving growth and survival of economically and ecologically valuable shellfish, which have declined, such as bay scallops. Results could contribute to increased commercial production, recreational harvesting, and reduced imports. Three major approaches are being explored for culture, enhancement and restoration:breeding, population or molecular genetics, and field evaluations. Responses to selective breeding, inbreeding and hybridization are being determined by developing lines for increased growth and survival, with positive results previously with oysters and currently with scallops. In addition, genetic diversity of various stocks and populations is being ascertained with molecular technology to support or complement breeding and broodstock management. Molecular (e.g., DNA) analyses are investigated for genotypic markers and expression in stock identification, with innovative biotechnology methods applicable to other shellfish species and different marine organisms from bacteria to fish. Habitat and environmental suitability and field performance evaluations also are being conducted with phenotypic markers such as striped shells credited to us. Observations are made on differences in growth and survival of shellfish under various conditions, comprising laboratory and field components. There are collaboration, outreach, resource and technology transfer activities.
For more information, contact Sheila Stiles.
Hemocytes, essentially blood cells, in bivalves such as oysters, clams, scallops, and mussels, are responsible for various physiological functions including immune defense, nutrition, and waste disposal. By understanding the functions and responses of these cells to environmental conditions, we are able to gain insight into the ability of hemocytes to maintain health when exposed to environmental stresses. We are able to achieve this understanding with the use of physiological probes, coupled with microscopy and flow cytometric applications in both laboratory and field settings. Eastern oysters, northern quahogs, bay scallops, blue mussels, and soft-shell clams, all species of economic or ecological importance in coastal habitats, are being studied. Ultimately, an improved understanding of the effects of changing environmental conditions on the health of farmed and wild-harvest shellfish will aid in local and national decision making.
For more information, contact Gary Wikfors.
Aquaculture and Environmental Interactions
Phytoplankton are photosynthetic microscopic algae at the base of marine food webs. Shellfish feed on phytoplankton directly. Phytoplankton biomass and productivity are key factors in coastal processes that are important in selecting shellfish aquaculture sites and quantifying interactions between shellfish aquaculture and the environment. Red fluorescence of chlorophyll a when phytoplankton samples are illuminated with blue light (referred to as ‘in vivo fluorescence’) is used widely to estimate phytoplankton biomass, hence food availability for shellfish. Reactions of chlorophyll to light, such as non-photochemical quenching during the day, and circadian rhythms of phytoplankton influence chlorophyll fluorescence yield, compromising the accuracy of chlorophyll measurements from in vivo fluorescence. Current research is evaluating ways to correct in vivo fluorescence measurements to yield more accurate chlorophyll estimates in environmental and culture-system samples.
Research is also ongoing developing measurements of phytoplankton/primary productivity with variable fluorescence techniques. The results will be useful in quantifying carrying capacity of a specific site. We are also collaborating with EPA and CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in aiming at using the information for the water quality management of the Long Island Sound.
For more information, contact Judy Li.
Shellfish feed by filtering plankton and other organic material out of their local environment. They assimilate the nitrogen and phosphorus contained in this organic material into their tissues and shell as they grow. In eutrophic coastal areas that have excess nutrients and an overabundance of phytoplankton, shellfish filter feeding can improve water quality. A recent two-year collaborative study quantified the nutrient assimilation benefits provided by ribbed mussels grown on a commercial mussel raft in the South Bronx, New York.
A recent collaborative project between NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the Milford Lab, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and a variety of other partners modeled the nitrogen removal from Long Island Sound and Great Bay, New Hampshire, provided by the local oyster aquaculture industries and calculated the dollar value to replace this ecosystem service with traditional nutrient reduction approaches.
The Milford Lab is currently working on three research projects that seek to document the nutrient removal services provided by shellfish:
- measuring and modeling nitrogen removal provided by hard clams and eastern oysters to the Town of Greenwich, Connecticut, and valuing the water quality benefits conferred to the town by the local shellfish population;
- comparing the nitrogen and phosphorus content of diploid and triploid oysters (oysters with two and three sets of chromosomes) over the growing season in the Chesapeake Bay in partnership with two shellfish growers, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science;
- quantifying nitrogen removal by ribbed mussels and seed oysters in the lower Providence River, Rhode Island.
Milford Laboratory staff are using GoPro cameras to document habitat services provided to fish by aquaculture gear in Long Island Sound. Off-bottom oyster cages are an increasingly common method for culturing oysters. These cages create complex 3-dimensional structure that may provide habitat for fish and other animals. Shellfish growers routinely observe fish at a variety of life stages interacting with aquaculture gear on their farms. Oyster farms with large numbers of cages may act as artificial reefs attracting and aggregating a variety of fish species.
Researchers at Milford are conducting a series of field trials to 1. Determine how oyster cage density influences fish abundance and behavior 2. How fish interactions with oyster cages compares with fish activity on natural habitats such as boulders on a rock reef.
To record video of fish activity in and around oyster cages, these cages were equipped with two Go Pro Hero 3+ cameras. One camera was mounted like a periscope to view the upper cage surface, and a second camera mounted at one corner to capture activity along two sides and the cage bottom. To collect video on rock reef habitat, "T-platforms" were constructed to provide a mounting surface for two cameras. Divers then positioned each T-platform and cameras next to a boulder to provide a field of view similar to cage-mounted cameras. Preliminary analyses of fish behavior suggest that fish utilize oyster cages in a variety of ways such as foraging, station keeping, and during courtship. We are working with regulators and fishery managers who make decisions about siting shellfish farms and protecting habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish species. Our data will help inform their decision-making process.
Phytoplankton, or microalgae, are single-celled photosynthetic organisms at the base of marine food webs that support finfish and shellfish production. At present, it is unclear how changes in atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 and ocean pH will affect phytoplankton physiology and community structure. We have been conducting single-species, laboratory culture experiments assessing the influence of experimentally-varied steady-state pH/CO2 upon phytoplankton physiology and nutritional content, including growth rate, elemental composition (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), total carbohydrates, lipids, and fatty acids. We are also conducting research on multiple phytoplankton species in competition experiments, the response of diatom transcriptomes to characterize gene response, and natural community mesocosm pH/CO2 manipulation experiments with field-collected phytoplankton assemblages. A primary objective in this research is to understand how ocean acidification may affect phytoplankton community structure and nutritional content.
For more information, contact Shannon Meseck.
Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed by the ocean. This causes changes to water chemistry (such as pH) that may impact marine life. Current research focuses on how ocean acidification may affect economically-important bivalve species including: eastern oysters, surfclams, sea scallops and blue mussels.
Scientists at the Milford Lab are currently conducting experiments to measure feeding, excretion, and respiration of eastern oysters, surfclams, and sea scallops, in differing pH scenarios. This data will be used in models to better understand metabolism and growth responses for each of these species under different environmental conditions. This project is expected to yield insight into how aquaculture and wild fisheries performance may be impacted by changing ocean chemistry.
Milford Lab researchers are also partnering with scientists and students from Stony Brook University to determine whether the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, has the capacity to overcome the effects of ocean acidification through acclimation and/or adaptation. Research focuses on investigating whether blue mussels can adapt to ocean acidification conditions across multiple generations, and whether tradeoffs to growth and development occur when mussels are grown in lower pH conditions.
For more information, contact Shannon Meseck.
Outreach and Partnerships
Much of the research conducted by the Aquaculture & Enhancement Division has direct application to the shellfish industry, many of whom do not read peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. Accordingly, we have sought ways to transfer knowledge and skills directly to the shellfish-aquaculture community and the community as a whole. Details of some of our current outreach and partnership activities can be found below.
The Flatfish Biology Conference welcomes platform and poster presentations addressing any aspect of flatfish research (e.g., biology, ecology, aquaculture, stock assessment, physiology etc.) from all regions and international locales. Professional and student flatfish researchers are invited to participate.
First held in 1986, the conference is convened by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) every 2-3 years, and facilitates information transfer among scientists and between research facilities. A steering committee comprising NEFSC and non-NEFSC scientists provide oversight. Conference proceedings are published as an online NEFSC Reference Document to ensure access to the agenda and abstracts and for historical documentation. The most recent Flatfish Biology Conference was held December 4th and 5th, 2018, in Westbrook, CT.
The MAS is held every January. In even-numbered years, the meeting is held in Southern Connecticut. In odd-numbered years, MAS is held jointly with the Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Expo (NACE). The next MAS meeting will be in January 2020.
The first Milford Aquaculture Seminar (MAS) was held in 1975, when a small group of Milford researchers and shellfish growers convened to discuss issues of concern to the aquaculture industry. Since then, the meeting has expanded in size and breadth to include the scientific and academic communities, industry, ecosystem managers and the public.
The 40th gathering of the Milford Aquaculture Seminar will be held January 13-15th, 2020 at the Courtyard by Marriott, Shelton, CT
The seminar will begin Monday, January 13th with a poster session and welcoming event. This will be followed by two days of technical sessions predominantly focused on shellfish aquaculture.
Please consider submitting an abstract for either a poster or oral presentation. Abstracts are due November 1st,2019.
Early registration fees are $150 per person, $85 per student. Early registration fees must be received by December 6th. After December 6th, rates increase so register early!
A special meeting room rate of $119 plus tax has been arranged. Make your reservation by December 14th, 2019 to get this rate.
Information on registration, abstract submission, presentation requirements, tentative schedule and hotel information can all be found on the Milford Aquaculture Seminar website.
Still have questions? Please email Lisa Milke or call (203) 882-6528.
October 18 & 19, 2019
The NOAA Fisheries Milford Lab holds an open house annually in October to reach students and the community. The open house is a unique opportunity for the public to tour an active fisheries lab, interact with scientists, and see first-hand the types of research projects that are conducted and how they serve the shellfish aquaculture industry and the wider community. The lab is divided into a series of interactive stations, each demonstrating a research topic, and each with a scientist on hand to present the material and answer questions. Hands on activities are available for all age groups; highlights include the “Touch Tank”, an ocean chemistry experiment, fish printing, and the lab’s history.
The first day of the open house is designated for local and regional school groups. As many as 500 students, from all grade levels, tour the lab in small groups. Often the school groups have completed related Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula or projects, or bring study aids to complement their visit. This event both enhances learning in ocean science and provides an opportunity for career exploration. On the second day, the general public is invited to visit and tour the lab at their own pace; families, community groups, and curious community members are welcome. We hope you will consider a visit during our next open house.
Held (nearly) annually, the 2-day Milford Microalgal Culture Workshop combines lectures with hands-on, laboratory activities to build knowledge and skills necessary to: 1) perpetuate stock cultures, 2) scale up cultures for feeding in the hatchery, 3) manage production cultures, and 4) make informed decisions about how much of what kind of algae to produce to feed broodstock, larvae, and post-set shellfish. Over the past 12 years more than 150 individuals from commercial, extension, academic, and government organizations have participated in the Workshop; there is no charge, but participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging.
For more information contact Gary Wikfors.
Researchers from the Milford Laboratory have a long history of collaborating with the two regional aquaculture high schools located in Milford’s vicinity. Collaborative efforts with the Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture Science and Technology Education Center have focused on shellfish aquaculture research, while the majority of research conducted with the Sound School in New Haven has focused on finfish aquaculture. Students from both of these programs regularly present their projects at the annual Milford Aquaculture Seminar, and many have returned post-graduation to participate in summer research internships at the lab.
Details of some of our current collaborative activities can be found below.
Scientists at the Milford Lab are partnering with GreenWave, a New Haven-based non-profit focused on ocean farming, to study the epiphytes and epifauna that grow on aquacultured sugar kelp. This project aims to provide data to kelp farmers that will allow them to maximize production without compromising the quality of their product due to biofouling. The project uses visual identification, microscopic examination, TCBS (Thiosulfate-Citrate-Bile-Sucrose Agar) culture, and next generation sequencing to document the macroscopic (e.g., hydroids, algae) and microscopic (bacteria, microalgae, and microzooplankton) organisms inhabiting the surface of kelp blades. The project includes surveillance for microbial species of human health concern. Samples are taken from a local kelp farm throughout the growing season to document how epibiotic communities vary with temperature and season.
For more information, contact Judy Li.
The Milford Laboratory has had a long-standing (25 years) history of collaboration with colleagues in France on topics relevant to shellfish aquaculture. Together we have made important advances in understanding the biochemical nutritional requirements of oysters and other shellfish in the hatchery and nursery, developed flow-cytometric methods to assess the immune status of shellfish, researched best-management practices to minimize the risk of spreading invasive, harmful microalgae through aquaculture activities, and led the world in identifying interactions between harmful algae and shellfish. Through Workshops and exchanges of students, post-docs, and professionals, we have worked side-by-side on questions relevant to improving the sustainability of shellfish aquaculture in both nations. At present, we have three specific areas of interaction: 1) Shellfish and harmful algae (with IUEM LEMAR), 2) Sustainable shellfish aquaculture development (with IFREMER), and 3) Mollusc feeding requirements (IUEM LEMAR).
For more information, contact Gary Wikfors.
The objective of the project is to share technology and experience on how environmental conditions affect survival and production of aquacultured oysters through effects upon the oyster immune system. Milford researchers work with colleagues from Korea's National Institute of Fisheries Science on applying oyster blood-cell analysis using flow-cytometry to assessments of immune-system capacity of oysters in Korean growing areas. National Institute of Fisheries Science staff work with Milford colleagues to apply tools of molecular biology to assessments of health status of oysters in US growing waters. The result is expected to be more-complete assessments of oyster health, combining both approaches, to better manage oyster aquaculture in both nations.
For more information, contact Gary Wikfors.
Milford Lab in the News!
Breakthrough oyster probiotic could hit shelves by 2020
A probiotic that increases survival rate in Eastern oyster larvae by as much as 35 percent could be commercially available by 2020. Read more »
Archiving for the Future
Milford Laboratory's huge collection of microalgal strains is playing an important role in keeping shellfish aquaculture thriving. Read more »
NOAA Fisheries Lab Helps Shellfish Growers Become Citizen Scientists
Staff from the Milford Laboratory have created a Citizen Science Guide to help growers capture high quality underwater footage of aquaculture gear. Read more »
How Will Changing Ocean Chemistry Affect the Shellfish We Eat?
For ten weeks, scientists measured feeding, growth, and respiration rates of fed and unfed oysters under three different pH treatments to understand the effects of ocean acidification on metabolism and shell development. Read more »
Window to an Underwater World: Milford Scientists Evaluate Oyster Cages as Habitat using GoPro Cameras
Milford Laboratory scientists are using GoPro cameras to determine if oyster cages used in shellfish aquaculture provide similar habitat for fish to naturally occurring rock reefs. Read more »
Milford Lab's International Appeal
Students, post-docs, and scientists from around the world spend time at NOAA Fisheries' lab in Milford CT, conducting research alongside the laboratory’s staff. Read more »
NOAA takes a deep dive into shellfish population in Greenwich waters
The NOAA fisheries research vessel the Victor Loosanoff has been in Greenwich since Monday, conducting a shellfish population survey. That research will provide data on the value of shellfish beyond just the seafood market. Read more »
Survey Says! What is the value of Greenwich’s shellfish?
The Milford Lab is now working on a pilot study to document the local environmental benefits provided by shellfish by measuring and modeling nutrient capture and water quality improvements provided by clams and oysters in Greenwich. Read more »
Aw Shucks: Scientists Use GoPro to Study Oyster Habitats
Oysters are a delicacy enjoyed across the world, and their production is ever increasing in the United States. Off the Atlantic coast, farmers responsible for the salty delight employ a cage-farming strategy where oysters are grown in large, “off-bottom vertical cages” under the surface. Read more »
GoPro cameras let scientists know how fish act near oyster cages
As oyster farming has evolved to using stacked cages to grow more of the shellfish on the same area of seabed, researchers are wondering how fish are responding to the artificial structures. Read more »
The Economist: A nasty-tasting shellfish could be just the job for cleaning rivers
The ribbed mussel is edible, but it tastes terrible and so has no commercial value. This means growing the mussels in tainted waters is unlikely to tempt anyone into harvesting them. Read more »
Newsweek: This Tiny Animal Could Be One Solution to Cleaning up City Rivers
Mussels suspended from rafts might be the next superheroes to clean up urban rivers and estuaries-silently absorbing a common, but less obvious, contaminant: nitrogen. Read more »
Finding Impacts of Changing Ocean Chemistry on Fish and Shellfish
Increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes means more CO2 is being absorbed by seawater, where it undergoes chemical reactions, reducing the pH level and making the ocean more acidic. Read more »
Man Overboard Rescue Device Developed by Milford Lab Staff
Robert Alix, captain of the Lab's 49-foot research vessel Victor Loosanoff, and Werner Schreiner, a former deck hand on the boat, developed the Man Overboard Recovery device, or MOB, and a US patent is pending. Read more »
Milford's Green Rooms: Growing Microalgae for Shellfish Aquaculture
The lab grow lots of microalgae for specific research needs, and maintains a unique collection of microalgal strains developed decades ago that are used by the commercial aquaculture industry worldwide. Read more »
Milford Laboratory/Envera LLC Cooperative Probiotic Research Highlighted in YouTube Video
A video describing accomplishments of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory and Envera LLC, has been released on the new NOAA Technology Partnership Office YouTube channel. Diane Kapareiko speaks on the benefits of the CRADA in moving Milford Probiotic Strain OY15 toward commercialization for use in larviculture of the Eastern Oyster, as well as finding another potential probiotic strain for oysters among a collection of Bacillus strains already sold by Envera as probiotic strains for shrimp aquaculture. This video was taken and produced by Derek Parks of the NOAA Technology Partnership Office (TPO).
Jose Pereira’s work with area students highlighted
Pereira, a fisheries biologist at the NEFSC’s Milford Laboratory for 35 years, is part of Project Periphyton, an education program that links research on local watersheds with Long Island Sound and climate change. Read more »
Connecticut Lab Ups Its Shell Game
Research conducted on shellfish aquaculture is highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. Read more »
Milford Lab highlighted in regional magazine
An article highlighting the Milford Laboratory was published in the summer edition of Milford Living. Click here and turn to page 16 to read the article.
Milford Lab's Gary Wikfors named one of the world's top 20 oyster researchers
A recent manuscript in Aquaculture International studied oyster-focused publications from 1991-2014. According to this study, Gary Wikfors was named the 12th most productive author in the world when it comes to oysters! Link to the manuscript »
Senator Chris Murphy Visits the Milford Lab, June 30th 2015
On June 30th, Senator Chris Murphy visited the Milford lab as part of his tour of Long Island Sound communities and businesses.
Gary Wikfors talks bivalves on New York Public Radio (WNYC)'s Leonard Lopate Show
The topic was an "Everything guide to farming and eating mussels, clams and more." Other guests were Bren Smith from Thimble Island Oyster Company and Sam Ingber, chef at the Grand Central Oyster Bar! Listen to the podcast »