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Friday, September 22, 2023
Sept. 22, 2023

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Rising toxin levels to close Washington razor clam digging

The Columbian

LONG BEACH, Wash. — Razor clam digging along the Washington coast — scheduled for Thursday through Sunday — is closed beginning Friday due to public health concerns.

Digging will be allowed today as planned at Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Levels of domoic acid, detected through routine testing, have been on the rise since late Monday and could exceed state health guidelines by this weekend.

Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said digging on Friday through Sunday is being closed as a precaution.

Domoic acid is a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae. It can be harmful or even fatal is consumed in sufficient quantities.

“Warm ocean water temperatures have created ideal conditions for the algae that produce domoic acid,” Ayres said.

Sine 1991, when the toxin was first detected on the Pacific Coast, outbreaks of domoic acid have prompted the cancellation of three entire razor clam seasons in Washington — the last in 2002-2003.

Kalaloch Beach was closed for much of the 2004 season due to high toxin levels. In 2005, Long Beach was closed for two days due to elevated toxin levels.