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Up Coming Razor Clam Dig On Washinton Coast Up In The Air

Decision on next razor clam dig expected Wednesday

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is currently collecting water samples from coastal beaches to test whether marine toxin levels are low enough to open a razor clam dig tentatively scheduled to start Friday, May 15.

State fishery managers expect to receive test results from the Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) on Wednesday, May 13, when they will announce whether the proposed three-day dig at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks can proceed as planned.

Last Wednesday, WDFW cancelled three days of a four-day razor clam dig when it appeared that rising domoic acid levels could exceed state health guidelines within a few days. The next day, another round of testing showed that toxin levels had exceeded that threshold at Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Farther south, Oregon health officials ordered an immediate closure of razor clam digging and mussel gathering on Clatsop County beaches late Friday.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. More information about domoic acid can be found on WDOH's webpage.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, recommends that razor clam diggers check WDFW's website or the news media for a final decision on the May 15-17 dig.

A separate decision about whether to open a dig tentatively scheduled May 22-24 will be based on a later round of testing, he said.

"We recognize that the uncertainty surrounding the next opening casts a lot of people's plans into disarray," Ayres said. "We also know, however, that public safety has to be our first priority."

Since 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 one in 2002-03. Kalaloch Beach, jointly managed by WDFW and Olympic National Park, also was closed for much of the 2004 season due to high toxin levels. In 2005, WDFW closed Long Beach for two days due to elevated toxin levels.

If the upcoming dig is approved, three beaches will be open for razor clam digging on morning tides on the following days.

  • May 15, Friday; 4:58 a.m., -0.2 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 16, Saturday; 5:50 a.m., -0.9 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • May 17, Sunday; 6:38 a.m., -1.5 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

The last scheduled dig of the season will depend on the results of future marine toxin tests:

  • May 22, Friday; 10:18 a.m., -0.8 feet; Mocrocks
  • May 23, Saturday; 11:03 a.m., -0.2 feet; Mocrocks
  • May 24, Sunday; 11:51 a.m., 0.3 feet; Mocrocks


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