CCFHR conducts research on the effects of coastal habitat change and restoration on living marine resources such as seagrasses, marshes, reefs, and fish. CCFHR has laboratories in Beaufort, North Carolina and at Kasitsna Bay near Seldovia, Alaska. The Center focuses research on injured habitats and communities, and on estimating natural and human induced mortality, growth, and reproduction. These missions support NOAA’s broader mission of sustaining healthy coasts.
Research at CCFHR provides the scientific basis for damage assessment to NOS in its role as a resource trustee in the coastal area. CCFHR also provides monitoring protocols during recovery of damaged habitats.
The ecological value of habitats such as sea grasses and coral reefs are assessed by CCFHR scientists to aid managers of National Marine Sanctuaries in their stewardship role. These assessments are also employed to evaluate the success of newly established and long–established marine protected areas.
Restoration monitoring guidance and models of ecosystem susceptibility to coastal development are provided by CCFHR to NOS managers working to fulfill the Coastal Zone Management Act.
The system of National Estuarine Research Reserves benefits from CCFHR research through the establishment of food web linkages and ecological characterization of these natural ecological laboratory sites.
The Beaufort Laboratory has a location uniquely suited to the fulfillment of NOAA missions. The Laboratory is physically located less than one mile from the Beaufort Inlet and Morehead City Seaport.
The Laboratory has convenient access to important biogeographical and ecological boundaries such as Cape Hatteras and the Gulf Stream. The Beaufort Laboratory is within 20 km of the second largest estuarine complex on the east coast (Pamlico/Albemarle Sound). Estuarine and coastal ocean ecosystems are nearby for field studies. The Center houses facilities to support both ecologically important field and experimental laboratory research. Near at hand is the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Estuarine Research Reserve within view of Beaufort Laboratory’s Pivers Island campus. North Carolina’s temperate climate allows field research to be conducted throughout the year.
Kasitsna Bay Laboratory
The Kasitsna Bay Laboratory (KBL) is located on the Kenai Peninsula in south central Alaska, approximately 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. On the south side of Kachemak Bay in lower Cook Inlet, the laboratory is off the main Alaska highway system. It is accessible by both water and air taxi from the city of Homer, and is connected by road to the town of Seldovia, located about 9 miles away. The Cook Inlet region has one of the highest tidal ranges in North America, and is surrounded by mountains, glaciers, and active volcanoes, including Augustine Volcano and Four Peaked Volcano which have shown recent signs of activity. The diverse marine habitats in Kachemak Bay, from the kelp forests and rocky fjord substrates to seagrass beds on extensive mudflats, provide a natural laboratory for marine research and education. The region also contains national parks, national wildlife refuges, state parks, and critical habitat areas. Kachemak Bay is the largest of 27 National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs). KBL research, education and outreach activities are coordinated with the Kachemak Bay NERR staff based in Homer, as well as with other government agencies, tribal organizations, schools, and non-profit education and conservation groups in the region.