Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Lab Capabilities

The NWFSC Forensic Laboratory provides analyses in cases involving marine and anadromous fish, sea turtles, seals, whales, and shellfish. The Forensic Laboratory also provides general biological consultation to Office of Law Enforcement personnel, and when genetic analysis is not sufficient or appropriate for a case, the group can help locate the appropriate expertise or information.

Species ID - DNA

Here is a partial list of the species we currently identify with DNA:

  • Abalone
  • Halibut
  • Scombrids (Tuna, Wahoo)
  • Billfish
  • King Crabs
  • Sea Turtles
  • Corals
  • Marine mammals
  • Sharks
  • Crabs (Asian/Blue)
  • Rockfish (Sebastes)
  • Shrimp
  • Dolphinfish
  • Sablefish (Black Cod)
  • Snappers
  • Flounder/Fluke
  • Salmonids
  • Squid/Octopus
  • Gadids (Cods)
  • Sawfish
  • Toothfish
  • Groupers
  • Sciaenids (Red Drum, Totoaba)
  • Vietnamese Catfish (Pangasius)
  • Species ID - Morphology

    In some instances, DNA is not required for identification to species (or a higher taxonomic level, if appropriate), and morphology can be used to identify items to the appropriate taxonomic level. Here is a partial list of our current morphology capabilities:

    Sampling Guidance

    Sample sizes required for forensic analysis can vary greatly depending on enforcement and legal requirements. If you require analysis of a large number of evidence items, we are available to coordinate the development of an appropriate sampling plan and help with evidence collection, if necessary. Please contact the lab if you have questions related to sampling plans and/or field collection.

    Other Expertise

    The breadth of scientific expertise across NOAA Fisheries is considerable, and the Forensic Laboratory regularly interacts with colleagues who perform lipid analysis, pathology, disease diagnostics, nutritional analysis, toxicology, and microchemistry. Working with scientists at the six Regional Science Centers, the Forensic Laboratory has access to both the biological and technical expertise needed to address many enforcement issues.