OLYMPIA — It hasn’t been such an easy life for some tiny creatures living in the mud at the bottom 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 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 that could withstand harsh conditions such as one group of marine worms. But, the number of creatures more susceptible to harm from harsh conditions including snails and clams were unusually low.
Scientists couldn’t attribute the decline to any significant chemical contamination. They believe other environmental factors are involved.