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Enhanced Mussel Watch: Phase 1 Eastern Great Lakes

Overview

Van Veen GrabNOAA’s National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program is the longest continuous, nationwide contaminant monitoring program in U.S. coastal waters. Bivalves (mussels and oysters) and sediment and are analyzed for a suite of organic contaminants and trace metals to identify trends at over 300 selected coastal sites. The national program began in 1986 and sites in the Great Lakes were added in 1992. Today, sites are analyzed every other year. Mussel Watch is celebrated as one of NOAA’s Top Ten Foundation Data Sets.

The President's 2010 Budget provides $475 million to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget for a new EPA Great Lakes National Program Office-led interagency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which will target the most significant problems in the region, including invasive aquatic species, non-point source pollution, and contaminated sediment. NOAA's Mussel Watch Program, in cooperation with EPA, will expand their field sampling effort to included additional locations requested by the EPA along with analyses of additional contaminants of emerging concern.

As part of NOAA’s effort the Mussel Watch Program will add new sites designated Areas of Concern – “hot spots,” in two phases. Phase-1 (FY2010-funded) will assess the eastern Great Lakes and Phase-2 (FY2011 proposed) the western Lakes.

The information from these hot spots will be assessed relative to less impacted areas of Great Lakes and to the nation as a whole and used to assess the effectiveness of remediation efforts in the region. The information obtained will include and assessment of:

  • Chemical contaminants in mussels and sediment (100+) including contaminants of emerging concern such as flame retardants (PBDEs) and compounds common in stain-resistant products (perfluorinated compounds);
  • Sediment toxicity (Microtox);
  • Benthic infaunal taxonomy;
  • Mussel histopathology

The Mussel Watch field team began phase 1 collections on September 8th and finished on September 16th. See the field log here. Twenty three sites were sampled from the lower Detroit River and east to the St. Lawrence River at Massena, NY. Twelve of the sites were located in Areas of Concern. Samples are presently being analyzed. For more information about where we sampled see the daily log.
Success through Partnership
Our partners include:

guagga mussel

In the Great Lakes, the Mussel Watch Program uses invasive zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissenia species), to monitor for contaminants. This native bivalve (unionid) would eventually die from the stress caused by the numerous zebra mussels that have permanently attached to its shell with their byssal threads. Fresh water native clams are one of the most endangered animal groups in North America.

Contact Information

Project Manager:
1305 East West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 x149

The Mussel Watch Program samples the Great Lakes every year. The eastern Lakes are sampled in odd years and the western Lakes in even years. Long-term Mussel Watch sites (blue), recently sampled AOC sites (blue with black dot), and proposed AOC sampling sites for collection in 2010 (yellow).

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More About the NS&T Program

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment (CCMA) has maintained the National Status and Trends (NS&T) Program since 1984. This nationwide program of environmental monitoring, assessment and related research is designed to describe the current status of, and detect changes in, the environmental quality of our Nation’s estuarine and coastal waters. NS&T’s Bioeffects Studies are conducted to provide comprehensive assessments of environmental toxicity in selected regional water bodies, ranging from small bays to large sounds.



Contact Information

Project Manager:
1305 East West Highway
SSMC-IV, N/SCI-1
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-713-3028 x149