Small research station provides immense value to scientific advancement and marine exploration

Winter 2013

The Point Adams Biological Research Station lies at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Columbia River estuary is where nearly 260,000 square miles of inland runoff meet the Pacific Ocean. It's here that NOAA Fisheries scientists come together with a dynamically rich ecosystem to discover new understandings about aquatic life and freshwater and ocean ecology.

Point Adams Light House

The lower Columbia River provides important feeding and breeding habitat for shellfish and supports 175 species of birds. It's also a very important feeding, breeding, and migratory pathway for salmon, sturgeon, and other fishes, such as sardines, anchovy, herring, and eulachon. The estuary serves as a transition zone and migration corridor for salmon as they enter and return from the sea. The unique ecological processes found here provide the foundation for robust scientific exploration. Ten scientists and a team of support staff report to the Point Adams station, but don't let the research station's small size fool you. These experts produce some of the world's premier science related to fishery resources, predator/prey relationships, and the migrational behavior of salmon.

Fisheries biologists, for example, measure salmon survival through the Columbia and Snake River systems using passive integrated transponders, or small tags inserted into young salmon to track their migration. Other scientists are monitoring habitat restoration projects to determine how they contribute to salmon survival. Still other researchers are focusing on interactions between seabirds and fish populations. These research activities are critical because 13 Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. By advancing our scientific knowledge of migration and survival, these experts advance salmon recovery efforts in the region.

Scientists and staff at the Point Adams Biological Research Station are also active in the local community. They work with students to explore salmon behavior, research methodologies, and freshwater and ocean ecology. Students from Portland's Benson Polytechnic High School recently met with Point Adams researchers to observe the scientists at work. In their visit to the station, students shadowed researchers and learned about the biology of juvenile salmon and how the estuary provides an important environment for them to rear and grow. One of the scientists' goals for this session was to inspire the next generation of researchers.

Point Adams Biological Research Station is one of five NOAA Fisheries research stations in the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center is headquartered in Seattle, Wash., but these smaller, satellite stations provide significant contributions to scientific research and their local communities.

Learn more about these scientific research facilities.

Above right: A historical lifeboat station, dating to 1889, houses the Point Adams Research Station near Hammond, Ore.

Below: A beach on the Columbia River located directly in front of the Pt Adams Research Station is regularly sampled by seine to collect migrating salmonids and other fishes.

Point Adams Beach Seineing