It would normally take them about an hour-and-a-half to drive to Oakland Bay near Shelton, but researchers in Seattle can now study the bay by simply climbing a ladder.
That means the bacteria could not only survive in the sediment, it could breed. Oakland Bay could be producing its own fecal coliform bacteria.
“That certainly changes the equation,” said John Konovsky, Environmental Manager of the Squaxin Island Tribe. “The way we normally approach this problem of bacteria in marine water, won’t work.”
The good news is fecal coliform has a natural enemy; sunlight. Konovsky hopes clam harvesting methods can be changed to keep the silt down and allow for more sunlight to reach the sediment. It won’t be easy but at least, by using a rooftop replica, scientists have a better idea of what they’re dealing with in Oakland Bay.