Olympia, Wash., to give New Zealand mudsnails a bath

Saltwater will backflush into Capitol Lake in Olympia for the first time in more than a decade this afternoon in an effort to help eradicate the New Zealand mudsnail, a recently discovered invasive species.

On Sunday, researchers collected dozens of the snails, each no bigger than a grain of rice, as a first step toward gauging the effectiveness of the saline rinse, expected to last through Friday.

They were collecting about 50 snails at each of several survey areas near Heritage Park, Marathon Park and midway up the basin. After the saltwater recedes, researchers can return to the survey areas identified by markers to collect the same number of snails to see how many died and to calculate the mortality rate.

Biologists aren't expecting a complete die-off of the snails because salinity level in the water probably won't climb high enough. That's due to there being more freshwater in Capitol Lake than they would like before the saltwater is introduced.

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