The National Mussel Watch program run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received budget cuts at the federal and state levels, prompting Washington state officials to ask for the public’s help monitoring mussels, according to the Kingston Community News.
Scientists collect mussels in Puget Sound every two years and use them to analyze contaminants in the water.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife created the Mussel Watch Pilot Expansion program to get the public involved. Volunteer hours placing cages, checking catches and collecting mussels will reduce costs on the state. Volunteers can log on to the WDFW site to register and be part of the program.
Mussels consume algae and contaminants and retain them for several months. Scientists can use mussels to study trends in water pollution and determine whether or not water is safe for recreation and fishing.
Image: An aerial view of Puget Sound near Seattle (Credit: Liz Lawley, via Flickr)