Muscles needed for deploying mussels in Birch Bay

The Whatcom Marine Resources Committee (WMRC) is looking for volunteers to deploy cages full of shellfish to help monitor pollution in Puget Sound.

The purpose of the study is to determine whether efforts to limit stormwater pollution have been working. The WMRC is conducting the study as part of the regional stormwater-monitoring program (RSMP), under the supervision of the state department of ecology and the fish and wildlife department.

Volunteers will help deploy cages full of Penn Cove mussels to various points around the sound. The bivalves, donated by Penn Cove Mussels of Whidbey Island, were chosen because contaminants stay in their system for long periods of time.

WDFW researchers are deploying cages to 73 locations along the coast. The RSMP will pay for 40 of those deployments; local nonprofits and citizen volunteer groups fund the remaining sites.

Each cage will contain 64 mussels, and are designed to prevent predators from eating them. The cages will be placed statewide over the course of a week, and the samples will be retrieved in February 2016.

The WMRC is focusing their study on three Whatcom County areas: Clark’s Point, Birch Bay and Drayton Harbor. Local volunteers are needed to help deploy the cages. Deployment is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27 from 9:30 to 10:45 p.m. Volunteers will help deploy cages, manage safety measures and haul equipment to the sites. At least three volunteers are needed for each of the three sites. Volunteers should have their own weatherproof boots and clothing and headlamps for trekking along the shoreline at night.

Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Austin Rose with WMRC at arose@co.whatcom.wa.us.

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