Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Port Townsend Bay Monitoring Project

Students on the Monty Python after 
a rain cover was made for it.
Back in 1986, Judy and her friend Debra decided to start a project that would get local kids helping to monitor the water quality in Port Townsend Bay. They already had a boat—a scientist friend had donated the vessel Monty Python to PTMSC. Debra was a water quality engineer, and Judy reluctantly agreed to be the boat’s skipper until a real skipper took the helm. The Port Townsend Bay Monitoring Project, or MOPO, was born.

With six high school students in tow, they tried out many things that first year—sampling water from one end of PT Bay to the other, doing the first fish trawls, and testing bottom samples for contamination—tiny amphipods were placed in the sediment to see if it they died. (The test was tricky to do and results weren’t very clear.) Volunteers were involved too, monitoring beaches for change and surveying eelgrass beds.

MOPO continued for 14 years. After the first year, MOPO began working with all of Port Townsend’s 8th graders. Students got some in-class training and then they each got a turn going on a sampling trip on the Monty Python. When it was their turn they were often annoyed they had to put on baggy rain gear and wear thick life jackets, but once on the water nobody complained.  

Over the years they measured dissolved oxygen, salinity and temperature at four monitoring sites and recorded the variety of animals they sifted from the sediment at each site. But the best part was that so many students—around 100 each year—got out on the water to work as scientists for a day and learn what good water quality is all about—and why it’s so important.
                                                                        By Judy D’Amore, co-founder of PTMSC

This is one of 30 reasons to give $30 to celebrate 30 years. Or increase your impact and give more. All funds support the Future Fund to keep the PTMSC going strong. Donate online or call (360) 385-5582, ext. 104, or send a check to 532 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

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