Because the shellfish do not metabolize contaminants, state scientists will be able to see what pollutants are being washed into the Sound with stormwater.

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BELLINGHAM — Biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are using cages filled with native Penn Cove mussels to track how much stormwater pollution is entering the Puget Sound.

The Bellingham Herald reports that starting Oct. 26, volunteers will anchor mussels in 73 spots around the sound. The cages will remain in the water until February and will track what contaminants are washing from land into the Sound during t•he fall and winter.

Stormwater washes over hard surfaces and into local waterways instead of soaking into the ground. It can carry pollutants such as oil, fertilizers, chemicals and pet waste into the water.

Mussels do not metabolize contaminants, so any pollution will remain in their tissue.

The effort is part of the Stormwater Monitoring Program, which is funding about 40 sites.