The Milford Lab on Rogers Avenue, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was closed during the partial federal government shutdown that started Dec. 22. Staff there were on furlough, but a few employees went in to care for the sea creatures inside the facility. Julie Kay Roberts, director of communications for NOAA, said the employees continuing to work were not getting paid, but will be paid once the furlough is over. \u201cThe Milford Laboratory has employees that are considered \u2018intermittently excepted employees,\u2019 \u201d Roberts said. \u201cThese employees have been identified to periodically report to their duty station to fulfill a minimal level of duties which includes care of sea creatures located at the facility.\u201d The Rogers Avenue lab, officially known as the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, opened in 1931 and conducts research into fish and shellfish habitat, for commercial use and restoration. There are 19 full-time government employees at the lab. They are not allowed to access their government email during the shutdown, so could not be reached for comment. In a 2015 Connecticut Post article, one of the researchers talked about growing phytoplankton and zooplankton on an upper floor, and the need to take the plankton to the basement in hand carts to feed to the clams and oysters. Roberts said current projects include developing probiotics for use in oyster hatcheries, studying aquaculture gear as habitat for marine life, nutrient bioextraction studies, shellfish genetics research, offshore shellfish aquaculture potential, and responses of shellfish to ocean acidification. \u201cFor the near term,\u201d the lab\u2019s utilities have been paid and the necessary temperature control is being maintained to protect the experiments and sea creatures, Roberts added. The Milford Laboratory is described on its website as \u201ca world leader in aquaculture science.\u201d According to the NOAA website, \u201cOver the lab\u2019s history, NOAA scientists, working closely with industry and academia, have made fundamental contributions to the understanding of shellfish biology and reproduction.\u201d When U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., visited the Milford Lab two years ago to discuss federal funding for research there, he talked about the valuable work done at the Milford facility. \u201cAs changes in the environment batter Long Island Sound and deplete our stocks of shellfish, we need to invest in groundbreaking research more than ever before,\u2019\u2019 Murphy said in 2016. \u201cIt isn\u2019t just the right thing to do environmentally, it\u2019s also the right thing to do for our economy.\u201d He added, \u201cThe men and women at the Milford Lab are at the forefront of creating jobs, growing our knowledge base about ocean health and climate change, and developing sustained populations of shellfish \u2014 which grows our economy and creates jobs.\u201d Furloughed employees are not paid, unless Congress passes legislation to cover them with back pay after the lapse. \u201cExcepted employees are working without receiving a paycheck, but will be paid once the lapse ends and funding is available,\u201d Roberts said. She said there are no projects at risk at the lab due to the shutdown, but noted that staff will miss at least one important conference \u2014 The Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition Jan. 9 to 11 in Boston.