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FULL! Mussel Monitoring 2021

November 4, 2021 @ 9:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Puget Soundkeeper is looking for volunteers for this year’s Mussel Monitoring!

What is Mussel Monitoring?

Mussel Monitoring is a regional study coordinated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife that uses mussels to monitor water quality.

What will you be doing?

In November, teams of volunteers throughout Puget Sound will install cages of mussels at a late night zero tide. In January and February, the mussels will be collected and their tissues will be analyzed for various pollutants. You are only signing up for the November event.

Why is this important?

Over the long term, this project helps us monitor and understand changes in Puget Sound water quality. The project focuses on highly polluted urban sites, where water quality issues are greatest. Less polluted sites are included for reference.

Why do we use mussels to study pollution?

Mussels are filter feeders. They filter anywhere from 20-50 gallons of water each day and perform an important ecosystem service – they clean our water! However, this also means their tissues collect any chemicals in their food and water. Mussel digestive systems are relatively primitive and lack a functional liver. They cannot process pollutants, and instead accumulate them in their tissues. This is bad news for mussels, but good news for science.

Mussels will collect contaminants until they have the same amount as their environment (this generally takes 60-90 days, the same amount of time our mussel cages will be placed). Because the mussels don’t alter the chemicals, mussels provide a full look at what pollutants are in the water over a period of time. This gives us a better picture of the situation than taking a sample on a particular day, when conditions may be variable. This technique is also more sensitive to low levels of contaminants that may otherwise go undetected.

So, what’s the plan?

Puget Soundkeeper has adopted five study sites in the greater Seattle area. We are aiming to deploy our cages on Thursday, November 4th at zero tide. On the 4th, this is around 10:15 pm. Our sites are listed below:

  • Arroyo Beach (47.501749,-122.385996)
  • Elliott Bay, Harbor Island, Pier 17(47.587713, -122.350625)
  • Three Tree Point (47.44896, -122.372267)
  • Smith Cove, Terminal 91(47.632374, -122.378686) (FULL)
  • Salmon Bay, Commodore Park(47.6663, -122.4018)

But first, training! On November 2nd at 5 pm, Puget Soundkeeper will host a virtual training for Mussel Monitoring. At the training, we will go over how to deploy your mussel cages and general logistics. We will also announce your teams of 3 people. After you register for Mussel Monitoring, you will get a Zoom link for the virtual training. This training is required for participating in Mussel Monitoring.

On November 4th at 9pm, we will meet outside of the Puget Soundkeeper Office (130 Nickerson St #107, Seattle, WA 98109) for volunteers to meet with teams and pickup materials. At around 9:30 pm (depending on the distance of your site), you and your team will go to your sample site to deploy your mussel cage.

If you would like to participate in Mussel Monitoring, please register using the form below! Contact Jessica@pugetsoundkeeper.org if you have any questions.


  • Vaccine requirement: Puget Soundkeeper recently implemented a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for volunteer events. This is due to the surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta Variant. Please bring your proof of vaccination to the event, such as your vaccine card or a photo of it. Volunteers will not be able to participate without proof of vaccination. Please email Gillian@pugetsoundkeeper.org if you have any questions about this.
  • Please bring a face mask: We are requiring them again due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. If you do not have one, Puget Soundkeeper will have one for you.
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well: If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home. Symptoms include fever, nausea, shortness of breath, sore throat, body aches, fatigue.


November 4, 2021
9:00 pm - 11:30 pm