WFRC Fish Health Program capabilities include specialized freshwater and marine biocontainment laboratories, aquatic animal health research, and a strong commitment to provide prompt and thorough technical assistance to DOI bureaus, tribal and state fisheries agencies, other federal partners and the private sector.
Specialized Freshwater and Marine Biocontainment Laboratories
The Seattle headquarters includes a purpose-built 16,000 square feet of dry laboratory space to study aquatic viruses, bacteria and parasites and a 10,000 square foot wet laboratory supplied with micro-filtered and temperature-controlled freshwater fed to more than 300 tanks. The Marrowstone Marine Field Station (MMFS) is located on a 5-acre campus containing an additional 9,500 square feet of wet laboratory space designed to study infectious and parasitic diseases of marine fishes. Seattle also houses standalone zebrafish and aquatic Biosafety Level 3 laboratories.
Aquatic Animal Health Research
Current and future research projects seek to develop predictive tools and models that hindcast and forecast disease outbreaks in aquatic animal populations; expand our understanding of threats posed by a range of viral, bacterial, protozoan and fungal pathogens through biosurveillance and empirical study; improve understanding of how environmental stressors affect the immune response to pathogens and the resulting disease process; enhance efforts to improve our understanding of the factors affecting the emergence of new diseases of aquatic animals; adapt models to facilitate the management and control of diseases in aquatic ecosystems; and develop new tools and technologies to diagnose or control aquatic pathogens. While our strategic focus is on impacts to free-ranging marine and freshwater aquatic animal populations, we recognize that pathogens move freely on the aquatic landscape. Thus, we work with both public and private sectors to achieve our research goals.
The WFRC has a strong commitment to provide prompt and thorough technical assistance to Department of the Interior bureaus, tribal and state fisheries agencies, other federal partners and the private sector. Assistance is in the form of reference laboratory services, education and training, hosting workshops, technology transfer, and rapid response concerning emerging fish diseases and other health issues. Previous research projects included identification of novel infectious agents, development of new diagnostic methods for emerging diseases, or short-term and tactical research to address emerging management issues.