HAB Monitors Close Beaches in Oregon to Protect Recreational Clammers
A pilot program to monitor harmful algal species and their toxins in Oregon last week confirmed elevated domoic acid levels in razor clams, prompting the closure of popular state recreational clamming beaches from Tillamook Head to Bandon Beach (about a 240 mile stretch of Oregon’s 363 miles of coast).
Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by Pseudo-nitzschia, and can cause illness within minutes or hours after consuming animals with high enough concentrations in their tissues. The state’s departments of agriculture and fish and wildlife test shellfish for toxin accumulation, while NOAA-funded scientists from OSU work with counterparts from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the University of Oregon to monitor the blooms and check for toxicity.
Their work is funded through NOAA’s national “Monitoring and Event Response for Harmful Algal Bloom,” or MERHAB program.
This collaborative research, monitoring, and response capability helps keep recreational clammers in the Pacific Northwest safe from shellfish poisoning.