Saturday night some Citizen Science volunteers from PTMSC traveled out to Hood Canal to gather mussel samples for a NOAA project. This is one of the longest contaminant monitoring program detecting changes in the marine environment since 1986.
Mussels are filter feeders and a great indicator of toxins in the marine environment. Mussel tissue can be analyzed to give researchers a snapshot of the water quality at that particular time. They are tested for over 100 chemical contaminants in the water including, PAH's (compounds formed during burning of coal, oil or gas) persistent organic compounds, chemical elements (lead, mercury, zinc), pesticides and PCB's (cooling and insulating fluids). Concentrations of these chemicals are increased by human activities and pose threats to marine environments and humans. In some locations around the United States, concentrations of harmful chemicals have been decreasing but in others there is a huge peak in chemicals present in the water. Variations between seasons have been seen with peaks present in the winter months due to runoff during the rainy season.
It was a fun and interesting project to take part it and the weather even worked in our favor!