Location: Northern California Coast. Humboldt & Del Norte County. Focus on Yurok Ancestral lands.
Description: The project includes observations, analysis and advisories about shellfish and shellfish safety in particular related to harmful algae and other sources of marine or human illness.
Background: Yurok Tribe Environmental Program has been monitoring levels of PSP in shellfish for the past four years. Tribal staff collect samples monthly that are analyzed at the California State Environmental Lab for PSP and domoic acid. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal. Paralytic Shellfish Poisioning (PSP) is a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with dinoflagellate algae that produce harmful toxins. Some of these toxins are 1,000 times more potent than cyanide, and toxin levels contained in a single shellfish can be fatal to humans.
More Information: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will maintain a list of closed beaches of the state and update that list on Wednesday of each week by 1 p.m. It shall be the responsibility of any person prior to taking razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties to call CDFW’s hotline (831) 649-2883 or visit CDFW’s website to obtain the current status of any ocean beach in those counties.
Funding: Yurok Tribe, Center for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
Partners: Pending (State of California Department of Public Health)
Observing Guidance: Observers are invited to share observations about changes in ocean or coastal environment, or other marine conditions that are relevant to shellfish health and safety. Photos are encourage as well as detailed descriptions.
Outputs: Addition of observation to the project map, addition to the project timeline. Advisories as developed by the project leads. Participation in project discussion group.
November 7, 2016Alert: Individuals harvesting dungies (dungeness crab) need to be aware of an announcement by the California Department of Public Health that they should avoid consuming the crab, in particular the viscera (internal organs) of recreationally caught Dungeness crabs taken from state waters north of Latitude 38° 00′ N. (near Point Reyes, CA). CDPH believes that Dungeness crab meat is safe to consume, however, as a precaution, consumers are advised not to eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs.
June 7, 2016Alert: High levels of domoic acid remain present in Del Norte and Humboldt County razor clams from the massive toxic algal bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia that occurred last year in the Pacific Ocean. Algal blooms are common, but this one was particularly large and persistent. **California Department of Public Health has advised that razor clams are known to retain domoic acid for long periods of time, in some cases more than a year. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) maintains a list of closed beaches of the state and updates that list on Wednesday of each week by 1 p.m. It is the responsibility of any person prior to taking razor clams in Humboldt and Del Norte counties to call CDFW’s hotline (831) 649-2883 or visit CDFW’s website to obtain the current status of any ocean beach in those counties.
April 22, 2016 After three years with significant levels of detection, samples collected over the last three months have been clean of PSP. These in samples of marine mussels collected from from Wilson Beach during February, March and April.
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) Memorandum – Domoic Acid Threat to Public Health From Razor Clams in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties: "The OEHHA has been provided test data from the Carilornia Department of Pubilc Health (CDPH) laboratories measuring high levels of domoic acid in razor clams harvested along the coast of Del Norte adn Humboldt counties (along Crescent and Clam beaches). Domoic acid poisoning in humans may occur within minutes to hours after consumption of affected seafood and can result in signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to permanent loss of short-term memory (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma, or death." Source: California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA). Pubished Aprill 20, 2016