Monitoring the health of Puget Sound

“In the mid-’90s, our unit lead connected with a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in California who had started a project looking at foraminifera— tiny, one-celled creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean. When we collected our samples, we started taking an extra spoonful of sediment and sending it down to her lab.

Over time the project transitioned to Washington. We’ve been sending our samples to Liz and Ruth at the Burke for ten years now. It’s an easy thing for us to do, and it stretches the scientific information our project can provide.

Our monitoring program samples sediment in eight regions and six urban bays throughout Puget Sound. In our studies, we look for chemical contaminants, we do toxicity tests, and we count and identify the macroinvertebrates to determine their health and community structure.

Over time we have seen a decline, but we haven’t seen a large correspondence between the chemicals we measure and the changes in the communities we are looking at. Liz has seen a similar decline in foraminifera in some locations. Her results add to our body of knowledge and the weight of evidence that there is something else going on.”

Article Source: Burke Museum