Beaufort, NC Marine Research

The Beaufort Marine Research Center is a Crystal Coast site that’s located just out of sight, but can be found off the coast of Beaufort, NC. This facility is essential for staff and students who come to Carteret County to explore and research the unique coastal environment. With hundreds of migrating waterfowl, saltwater and freshwater species, and miles of undeveloped shoreline, the Beaufort Marine Research Center is instrumental for Crystal Coast researchers.

From your bench seat along the boardwalk overlooking the Beaufort Waterfront, turn your head just a half twist to the right and you can see off in the distance Duke University’s Marine Laboratory. Actually, what you are seeing is one building out on the northernmost point of Pivers Island, but there is far more to this facility than meets the eye.

Behind that are dorms, a dining hall and several classroom facilities and, behind all that, a big white building that houses National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. These buildings house staff and students who stay at the Beaufort Marine Research Center throughout the year.

Duke students constantly prowl the area’s complex system of barrier islands, sounds and estuaries, observing mud flats, sand beaches, dunes, marshes, peat bogs, cypress swamps, bird islands and coastal forests. The Duke Marine Lab makes its facilities available each year to over 1,000 students from other colleges and universities who come to the area for field trips.

NOAA’s Beaufort facility works in conjunction with a similar lab at Kasitsna Bay, Alaska, addressing the impacts of global climate change on ecosystems in the coastal ocean. It also undertakes research on harmful algae blooms and examines the effects of sea level rise, shoreline stabilization, trophic dynamics and mercury bioaccumulation.