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Quality Assurance Project Plan: Persistent Organic Pollutants in Three Guilds of Pelagic Marine Species from the Puget Sound

Category: Habitat - Marine

Date Published: December 14, 2009

Number of Pages: 35

Publication Number: 09-10-099

Author(s): James West, Jennifer Lanksbury, Steven Jeffries and Monique Lance

DESCRIPTION:

This quality assurance project plan describes the objectives of the Persistent Organic Pollutants in Three Guilds of Pelagic Marine Species from the Puget Sound study, and the procedures to be followed to achieve those objectives. This project is designed to evaluate the extent and magnitude of Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) exposure in the pelagic ecosystem of Puget Sound, and to gain a better understanding of the pathways of contaminants in this food web.

ABSTRACT:

Each Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) study that generates new data must have an approved Quality Assurance (QA) Project Plan. This document is that plan. This QA Plan describes the objectives of the study and the procedures to be followed to achieve those objectives. After completion of the study, a final report describing the study results will be posted to the Internet.

This project is designed to evaluate the extent and magnitude of Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) exposure in the pelagic ecosystem of Puget Sound, and to gain a better understanding of the pathways of contaminants in this food web. To this end, non-migratory, pelagic forage fish species, including the Pacific whiting (Merluccius productus) and walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) will be sampled and analyzed for contaminants. The primary prey of these pelagic predators, Euphausia pacifica, or krill, will also be sampled, as will phytoplankton, primary producers at the base of the Puget Sound pelagic food web. Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are upper trophic level predators and can serve as an informal sentinel of marine ecosystem contamination by integrating contaminant information from the food chain upon which it depends. Harbor seals are a relatively long-lived species and consume a variety of fish. They do not migrate, so they provide a ā€žlocal. signal of contamination. To determine geographically where POPs are infiltrating the pelagic food web, samples will be gathered from a range of locations representing worst case, best case, and intermediate environments across the eight major basins of the Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Strait of Georgia, as well as within several urban bays of the central Puget Sound for both fish and plankton. Associating contaminant levels and pathogens to foraging areas of harbor seals in Puget Sound will take place in three new areas: Central Puget Sound basin, Hood Canal, and Whidbey basin.

This project will focus on measuring levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs ā€“ in plankton only), chlorinated pesticides, and mercury. Samples will also be analyzed for percent lipids and solids. Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen will be used to evaluate trophic status.

Suggested Citation:
West, J.E., J. Lanksbury, S. Jeffries, and M. Lance. 2009. Quality Assurance Project Plan: Persistent organic pollutants in three guilds of pelagic marine species from the Puget Sound. Washington Department of Ecology Publication #09-10-099. 35 pp.