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NC State Extension

Marine Aquaculture Research Center (MARC)

The North Carolina State University Marine Aquaculture Research Center (MARC) was founded in 2009 in part from a generous donation from Dr. IJ and Sue Won and support from the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation. The MARC facility, located in Smyrna, NC (Carteret County), is a Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering field laboratory that focuses on recirculating aquaculture research of marine species, including culture of finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants; waste treatment of aquaculture byproducts; and extension to clients and the public on aquaculture and related topics.

MARC site buildings

MARC site buildings

The Marine Aquaculture Research Center (MARC) is located on a six-acre campus at the head of Sleepy Creek between the towns of Smyrna and Marshallberg in Carteret County, North Carolina. The facility consists of two 4200 square foot buildings. The first building contains a water quality wet chemistry lab, a 12 tank circulating system consisting of 300-gallon tanks, a 12 tank recirculating system consisting of 170-gallon tanks, a three-tank recirculating system consisting of 800-gallon tanks, and a well-stocked shop for system repair and fabrication. Building number two contains six 3000 gallon tanks and six 240 gallon tray-style tanks. Building two has a flexible, open footprint and can be used for special projects.

RAS tank system

RAS tank system

The facility is capable of running systems at salinities ranging from freshwater all the way to full-strength saltwater. Saltwater is obtained, treated, and stored from nearby Sleepy Creek. A wastewater system filters water to be returned to Sleepy Creek. The facility also features a 14kW wind turbine and 8kW solar array, which supplement and offset energy use at the facility with renewable energy. MARC also has a back-up generator capable of powering the entire facility in the case of power outages.

Water treatment tanks

Water treatment tanks

The MARC facility specializes in production style research emulating conditions relatable to commercial aquaculture production. Researched marine finfish species at MARC have included striped bass and their hybrids, red porgy (in conjunction with NOAA), baitfish, red drum, black drum, sturgeon, spots, croakers, sheepshead, and more.

Fish cultured at the MARC facility

Fish cultured at the MARC facility

University conducted research has included numerous feed formulation grow out trials (soy replacement, pre/pro-biotics), growth study comparison of hybrid striped bass and striped bass, grow out studies of domesticated lines of striped bass, red drum and black drum candidate feasibility studies, live bait baitfish culture and more.

Past collaborations have included feed trials for Zeigler Bros. Inc. and Skretting Feed as well as product implementation and testing for Pentair.

Marine Aquaculture Research Center Staff

Lab Director/Principal Investigator
-Dr. Steven Hall
Professor, NC State University BAE

Extension Associate/Lab Manager
-Ryan Kelly

Research Technicians:
-Thomas McArthur
-Leeanna Bunch
-Donovan Willis