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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

January 8, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Marine life declining at bottom of Bellingham Bay

OLYMPIA (AP) — It hasn’t been such an easy life for some tiny creatures living in the mud at the bottom of Bellingham Bay.

A new state report released Wednesday finds that sediment-dwelling critters such as clams, snails, sea stars and crabs are showing signs of stress and that the bay’s sediment quality is declining. The 2010 Department of Ecology survey also found the number and diversity of invertebrates are unusually low compared to previous surveys.

Scientists sampled the top inch of sediment at 30 locations in the bay. They looked at chemical levels, toxicity and other factors.

They found abundant numbers of invertebrates, such as one group of marine worm, that could withstand harsh conditions. But the number of creatures, including snails and clams, more susceptible to harm from harsh conditions, was unusually low.

Scientists couldn’t attribute the decline to any significant chemical contamination. They believe other environmental factors are involved.

Comments | More in Environment, General news | Topics: bellingham, creatures, seabed

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