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Milford Lab Facilities

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Diving Program

The NOAA Diving Program, OMAO, Milford Unit, is composed of a Unit Diving Supervisor and Advanced Working Diver, Working Divers, and Scientific Divers. Subunits include Working and Scientific 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 whatever knowledge and tools necessary to fulfill the mission safely. From inspecting 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.

Tank Farm

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, please contact Joseph Choromanski.

Milford Microalgal Culture Collection
Microalgal culture collection at Milford

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 Jennifer H. Alix, Curator

Mass-Culture Room
mass culture room

When the main laboratory building was constructed in the late 1960s, Dr. Ravenna Ukeles had the opportunity to design a room for the large-scale culture of microalgae under controlled, near-clean-room conditions. A large (1,100ft2) room with light, shelf, and air/carbon dioxide-distribution systems accommodates 36 20-l 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 remains a unique and valuable resource for Milford Laboratory research, dependably producing kilograms of microalgal biomass with consistent biochemical quality.

For more information, contact Mark Dixon

Flow-cytometry Facility
Flow through tanks at Milford

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.

Bivalve Hatchery and Nursery

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. An indoor facility for the culture of bay scallops using recirculating seawater systems was built within our covered tank farm, taking advantage of the large quantities of algae grown in the greenhouse. Many of the shellfish rearing methods developed here have been adopted and 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, contact David Veilleux.

Research vessel Victor Loosanoff

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 LTJG Erick Estela.
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(File Modified Dec. 07 2017)