Mussel Bagging

mussels-large array

Mussel Monitoring for Toxins as part of Stormwater Action Monitoring (SAM) Program at WDFW

Mussel Bagging

Every couple of years since 2011, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) conducts a monitoring study of toxins released into Puget Sound from stormwater runoff and industrial/municipal releases. Mussels are used because they filter water efficiently and thus pick up toxins that might be in the water. This is a big effort requiring the help of many volunteers to sort and bag the mussels, and then to deploy them at 96 locations around Puget Sound. After a couple of months in the water, the mussels are retrieved and taken to Olympia where they are analyzed for toxins (possible opportunity to venture to the lab for yourself, we will ask Mariko after her presentation).

We are looking for 36 total volunteers over 4 days to help produce the 500 bags of mussels needed: 6 to 8 volunteers for 2 shifts per day, Oct 18 to 21. The bagging of mussels is conducted at the Penn Cove Shellfish Farm in Coupeville and takes about 4 days depending on the number of available volunteers. Once again this year WDFW asked SWS for help because this project wouldn’t get off the ground without us. In spite of some rain and wind on the first day of bagging in 2019, everyone had a fun time getting to know the project as well as the mussels and the people volunteering.

After letting the mussels recover for a few weeks, the mussels are placed in cages that are deployed in Puget Sound at 0.0’ tide between Oct 27 and Nov 1, including two locations on Whidbey Island and one on Camano Island, including Penn Cove Shellfish Farm (Jamie Hartley, Rich Yukubousky, Kris Holley, Kerry Holland); Polnell Point (Allie Hudec) on NAS base (we seek 2 volunteers to help Allie) and Maple Grove on Camano (we seek 1 more volunteer for the Camano team). The fun is getting to use your headlamps and deploy the cages at night during low tide with retrieval in late January/early February also on the low tide.

This is one of the bigger projects Sound Water Stewards can engage in and get to know each other while having fun outdoors on the shores of beautiful Whidbey Island. If you missed it in 2019, join in the fun this fall. Bagging will take place tentatively over the course of 4 days from Oct 18 to 21, subject to change, more details after the Sept. 13 all-member monthly meeting! 

Interested? Fill out this interest survey so Tabitha can coordinate!

LEARN MORE: At the Sept. 13  monthly meeting when we hear from presenters Mariko Langness of WDFW and Kes Tautvydas (SWS Lead for Mussel bagging and Monitoring) about how the program works.

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