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NCCOS’s Mussel Watch Program to Assess Chesapeake Bay for New and Emerging Water Pollutants

Published on: 07/07/2015

Scientists from NCCOS are partnering with the Maryland Department of Natural Resource (MD-DNR) to launch a monitoring project in the Chesapeake Bay designed to survey the magnitude and distribution of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). CECs, such as current-use pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and other chemicals associated with human activities, can enter the environment and cause degraded water quality as well as toxic effects in wildlife and humans.

The project is part of the Mussel Watch program’s ecosystem monitoring approach, which consists of measuring contaminants in the tissues of stationary bottom dwellingorganisms, such as oysters, in order to evaluate local environmental quality. The monitoring workbenefited from the expertise of MD-DNR scientists, who helped identify suitable survey areas, including the Patapsco, Severn, Rhode and Choptank Rivers, which represent industrial, urban, undeveloped, and agriculture land-use, respectively. Because wild oysters are not present in some of these survey sites, an approach using caged juvenile oysters from local aquaculture is being used.

The researchersare working with volunteers and a network of citizen groups. such as Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) and River Keepers, many of whom will be attending the cages. The caged-oysters are currently being deployed and will remain in the water for a period of two months.The results of the survey will be made available to stakeholders and the public.For more on this partnership from the perspective of our partners at the Annapolis Yacht Club, see their press release.

In addition to increasing NOAA’s presence in our coastal communities, the conclusions of this survey will help determine if toxic CECs are present in the water and to which degree they are getting into marine resources in the Chesapeake Bay. The results may also serve as baseline data that can help local coastal managers steer water quality monitoring decisions in the bay. For more information, contact Dennis.Apeti@noaa.gov or Ak.Leight@noaa.gov

 

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NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

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Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (240) 533-0300 / Fax: (301) 713-4353
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