Puget Soundkeeper is looking for adventurous volunteers ready to spend an evening retrieving mussel cages around Puget Sound!
Mussel Watch is a regional study coordinated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife that utilizes mussels to monitor water quality. In October, teams of volunteers throughout Puget Sound installed cages of mussels at a late night low tide. Now, we need volunteers to collect the mussels so their tissues can be analyzed for the accumulation of various pollutants. This project focuses specifically on urban sample sites with high pollution loads. Less contaminated sites are included for reference. Over the long term, this provides valuable information about improvements or declines in Puget Sound water quality.
Why are mussels used to study pollution? Mussels are prolific filter feeders that can filter anywhere from 20-50 gallons of water each day. Because of this, they perform an important ecosystem service- they clean our water! However, this also means they accumulate the chemicals present in their food and water in their tissues. Mussel digestive systems are relatively primitive and lack a functioning liver. They cannot metabolize contaminants and, instead, accumulate them unchanged in their tissues. This is bad news for mussels, but good news for science. Mussels will accumulate contaminants until they reach equilibrium with their environment (this generally takes 60-90 days, the same amount of time our mussel cages will be placed). Because these chemicals are not biotransformed, mussels provide a comprehensive look at what pollutants are present in a body of water over a period of time. This is a more robust measure than taking a sample on one particular day, when conditions may be variable, and is more sensitive to low levels of contaminants that may otherwise go undetected.
Puget Soundkeeper adopted 7 sites in the greater Seattle area and we are aiming to retrieve our cages on Tuesday, January 21st . We will go out at low tide which happens around 8:30 pm. Our sites are listed below:
- Smith Cove Terminal 91 (63237, -122.37868)
- Salmon Bay near Commodore Park (6663, -122.40179)
- Duwamish Head (59543, -122.3876)
- Elliott Bay near Four Mile Rock (63888, -122.4128)
- Lincoln Park (52993, -122.40157)
- Arroyo Beach (50174, -122.38599)
- Seahurst Park (46321, -122.36906)
When: 7:00 – 9:00pm (Please note there may be some downtime between training and when you need to get to your site.)
Where: Soundkeeper Office (130 Nickerson St #107, Seattle, WA 98109)
Forms: On the night of retrieval, we will gather at the Soundkeeper office at 7:00pm to review the retrieval protocol and head to our sample sites in teams. All of the cages need to come back to the Puget Soundkeeper office that night! We will be bringing the supplies and mussels to Olympia the next morning. The teams will be a minimum of 2 people and maximum depending on interest and organized by Puget Soundkeeper prior to the training. Registration is below and if you have any questions contact Gillian at Gillian@pugetsoundkeeper.org