Sara Mirabilio, M.Sc.

Fisheries Extension Specialist, North Carolina Sea Grant

Office: Room no. 216
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC 27981

Phone: 252-475-5488
Fax: 252-475-3545


Mirabilio develops educational programs and materials relating to commercial, recreational and for-hire fisheries.  She also conducts cooperative research and transfers technologies that keep the domestic seafood and for-hire fishing industries financially competitive and environmentally responsible.

On the side, Mirabilio is as an instructor for North Carolina State University’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, or NRLI, on natural resource collaborative processes, particularly those that result in greater trust among user groups and in use of both scientific and traditional ecological knowledge in fishery policy development.  She is a 2005 graduate of the NRLI program.

Prior to joining Sea Grant in August 2003, Mirabilio served as a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant Office and was a program analyst for NOAA Ocean Service’s Chief Scientist.

Finally, in her free time, Mirabilio enjoys sailing traditional watercraft, and is one of only two skippers for the reproduction North Carolina shad boat, The Spirit of Roanoke Island, berthed at the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum.  She also is the main mast captain for Roanoke Island Festival Park’s Elizabeth II, a reproduction of the 16th-century sailing vessel that brought the 1587 colonists to Roanoke Island.  More recently, Mirabilio began long-distance running, completing numerous races over the years including the Outer Banks Half Marathon in 2009, 2011, and 2016.


South Atlantic Shrimp Fishery Observer & Vessel Safety Training, January 2009

NOAA Fisheries Service Galveston Laboratory, Galveston, Texas

Natural Resources Leadership Development Program, June 2005

Natural Resources Leadership Institute, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

Practicum: “Utilization of Cultural Models and Collaborative Learning to Advance Management of the North Carolina Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus) Fishery”

Master of Science in Marine Science, 2001, GPA: 3.90 / 4.0
The College of William & Mary/Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia
Thesis: “Vitellogenin: A Biomarker of Exposure to Environmental Estrogens for Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) from a Creosote-Contaminated Site?”

Bachelor of Science in Marine Science, 1998, summa cum laude and with honors diploma, GPA: 3.97 / 4.0
Long Island University, Southampton College, Southampton, New York
Honors Thesis: “Examination of Goodyear’s (1972) Technique for Behavioral Toxicity Testing: Determining the Effects of Chronic Sublethal Methylmercury Exposure on the Predator-Prey Relationship between Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and Mosquitofish (Gambusia a. holbrooki)”

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Boating Skills & Seamanship, May 1998
Long Island University, Southampton College, Southampton, New York

PADI Open Water Diver, August 1995

Peconic SCUBA, Riverhead, New York

Current Projects

Mirabilio’s ongoing work includes cultivating cooperative research with the commercial and recreational fishing industries particularly on bycatch reduction.  In 2011, Mirabilio received the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award Program’s Natural Resources Scientist of the Year Award for her research with industry to test a modified turtle excluder device in the summer flounder winter ocean trawl fishery.

She also continues to assist commercial fishermen and seafood distributors employ market research tools to deliver seafood products desired by consumers.  Mirabilio, along with Sea Grant extension personnel Nash and Baker, are working to create North Carolina market opportunities for spiny dogfish, or Cape shark, by assisting industry and restaurant partners in developing high-quality and novel-related products that resonate with North Carolina consumers’ palates, and are easy to prepare in homes or restaurants.

Select Publications & Outreach Products

Mirabilio, S.E., and M.S. Baker, Jr.  2015.  Protected Species and NC Commercial Fisheries: Observers and Federal Permits Maintain Access to Traditional Fisheries.  North Carolina Sea Grant, Raleigh, NC.  4 pp.

Nash, J.B., Mirabilio, S.E., and M.S. Baker, Jr.  2014.  Developing Commercial Identities to Raise Awareness of Local Seafood.  Journal of Extension.  52(5).  1 pp.

Mirabilio, S.E., and M.S. Baker, Jr.  2006.  Fisheries Management and You: A Guide to Public Involvement in North Carolina Marine Fisheries Management.  North Carolina Sea Grant, Raleigh, NC.  8 pp

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.



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ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


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