Tag Archives: domoic acid

Death by Killer Algae

They didn’t think much of the first dead whale. Dwarfed by the rugged cliffs of Patagonia’s high green fjords, the team of biologists had sailed into a gulf off the Pacific Ocean searching for the ocean’s smaller animals, the marine invertebrates they were there to inventory. That night, while hunting for an anchorage in a narrow bay, the team spotted a large, dead whale floating on the water’s surface. But for the biologists, death—even of such an enormous animal—didn’t seem so unusual. Not so unusual, that is, until they found the second whale, lying on the beach. And a third. And a fourth. In all, they found seven in that bay alone. Over the next day, they counted a total of 25 dead whales in the fjord. click here to read the story 15:42

Oregon: Bay crabbing closures leave businesses empty

The Oct. 15 closure of both recreational and commercial crabbing came as quite a surprise to many local businesses who rely on bay crabbing in the months leading up to the Dec. 1 ocean crabbing season.,,, The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture closed crabbing after noticing increased levels of domoic acid in local Dungeness crabs coming out of the bay. However, locals who financially rely on crabbing feel this isn’t as dangerous as state agencies are making it out to be. click here to read the story 09:08

Fingers crossed there won’t be anything to be crabby about this season

With their pots stacked high and boat decks washed, commercial crab fishermen along the Central Coast are prepped for a season that is expected to start next Wednesday, on-time for the first time since 2014. And the getting could be good. “Ocean conditions over the past couple years, as the crabs that we’ll catch this year have matured, have been pretty good,” says Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations in San Francisco. “It was good enough that we think the resources will be very healthy.” “Brutal,” “devastating,” “a disaster,” are all ways fishermen and heads of the industry have described the crab seasons of 2015 and 2016,,, click here to read the story 09:25

Dungeness crab season could be delayed again by the toxin domoic acid

Dungeness crab season is approaching in the Bay Area, along with all the rituals that come with it — the crab feeds and holiday dinners piled with crab legs, sourdough bread and crocks of melted butter. Unfortunately, there’s another, more recent local tradition that is also back: uncertainty about whether algal blooms will delay the season. Domoic acid is the naturally occurring toxin caused by algal blooms that delayed the past two Dungeness crab seasons. According to test results from the California Department of Public Health, elevated levels of the toxin have shown up in samples of Dungeness crab collected in recent weeks at several North Coast ports. However, the agency said it’s too soon to say whether domoic acid will delay the commercial Dungeness fishery, due to open Nov. 15. click here to read the story 11:05

Commercial Spiny Lobster Fishery Closed at Anacapa Island and the East End of Santa Cruz Island Due to Public Health Hazard

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has enacted a commercial spiny lobster fishery closure effective immediately. State health agencies determined that spiny lobster near Anacapa Island, Ventura County and the east end of Santa Cruz Island, Santa Barbara County had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended closure of the commercial fishery. The recreational fishery for spiny lobster remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera (tomalley) of spiny lobster. click here to read the story 21:30

Mystery of world’s worst toxic algal blooms solved: Cold water upswells from the deeper ocean

The most deadly algal blooms have extremely high levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid, which causes paralytic food poisoning and in rare cases amnesia or death if people eat contaminated shellfish. Scientists now think they have discovered why such blooms happen. It was previously thought that a pocket of warm water, known as a ‘warm blob’, was to blame. A study in Geophysical Research Letters has now identified that in fact upwelling of cold water from the deep oceans was responsible. click here to read the story 09:31

Domoic Acid raises its ugly head again…crab fishing closure

Commercial crabbing closed from Coos Bay north jetty to Heceta Head due to domoic acid The Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announce the closure of the commercial crab fishery from the north jetty of Coos Bay to Heceta Head, just south of Yachats, due to elevated levels of domoic acid in crab viscera. The area is also closed to recreational harvest. Crab meat remains safe for consumption. Domoic acid levels are elevated only in crab viscera, or the guts, of crab sampled and tested from this area of the Oregon coast. The closure is limited to that portion of the central coast. Areas south of Coos Bay and north of Heceta Head remain open to commercial crabbing. Read the story here 07:38

El Nino, Pacific Decadal Oscillation implicated in domoic acid shellfish toxicity

Using a combination of time-series data spanning two decades, the scientists not only showed a clear link between domoic acid and these larger climatic phenomena, but also developed a new model to predict with some accuracy the timing of domoic acid risks in the Pacific Northwest. The model is based on interpreting the status of the “Oceanic Niño Index” and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – both of which are measures of climate, ocean water movement, currents and temperature. It’s designed to help coastal resource managers more effectively monitor this issue and protect public health. The findings were made by researchers from Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The work was primarily supported by NOAA. Read the article here 08:01

Sonoma Coast Dungeness crab season delayed

crabber-dick-ogg-bodega-bayThousands of crab traps, stacked six feet or higher, line the sides of Westshore Road surrounding the Spud Point Marina, a clear indication this year’s commercial Dungeness crab season along the North Coast is off to another rocky start. “Look at what’s happening at Spud Point — there’s probably 10,000 pots sitting out there. Those are guys who aren’t going out,” said Charlie Beck, a Bodega Bay fisherman who has been crabbing in the waters off the Sonoma Coast nearly 40 years. “Our small fishing fleet is getting destroyed. Last year was the worst season that we’ve ever seen, and this year it’s looking pretty bleak, especially for the smaller boats.” State health officials last week recommended an indefinite delay for Dungeness along a 180-mile stretch of coastal waters along Northern California, from Point Reyes in Marin County to Humboldt Bay in Mendocino County, dealing another blow to the North Coast’s lucrative wintertime crabbing season following last year’s 4½-month delay. Read the story here with 12 images 10:01

Crabbing halted off Oregon coast

oregon-dept-agricultureState agriculture officials in Oregon have shut down commercial and recreational crabbing along the entire coast because of high levels of domoic acid found in the crabs’ flesh. The says the ban includes the harvest of Dungeness and red rock crab in bays and estuaries, off docks, piers, jetties and in the ocean. Consumption of domoic acid can result in dizziness, headaches, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe cases can result in memory loss and death. Closure of the crab season last year along the Pacific coast due to domoic acid contamination caused crabbers to lose millions. Despite the delay, crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers. Link 08:40

ODFW and ODA close crabbing along large part of Oregon coast

dungenesscrabThe Oregon Department of Agriculture and ODFW announced Friday recreational and commercial bay crabbing from Tillamook Head to the California border is closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Officials say they found elevated domoic acid levels in the viscera of Dungeness crab collected between Cascade Head and Cape Falcon. This triggered a biotoxin closure. The closure includes harvesting Dungeness and red rock crab in bays and estuaries, off docks, piers, jetties, and the ocean. The coastal areas outside of where the domoic acid was found are closed out of precaution while officials process more samples. The additional sample results could allow ODFW and the Department of Agriculture to reopen some areas and open the ocean crab fisheries, which are scheduled to open December 1. Read the rest here 17:36

Down East area reopened to shellfish harvesting as level of biotoxin fades

domoic-acid-massThe Maine Department of Marine Resources has given the all-clear for Down East shellfish harvesters, more than a month after closing the region to harvesting because of an unusual bloom of toxic algae. On Monday, the DMR announced it was reopening harvesting areas between Penobscot Bay and Machiasport for shellfish, including softshell clams and mussels. Areas farther east, between Machiasport and Calais, were reopened to harvesting Oct. 25. The entire Down East coast from east Penobscot Bay to the Canadian border was closed at the end of September. The closure was triggered after shellfish samples from Jonesport, Corea and Roque Bluffs tested positive for elevated levels of domoic acid, a biotoxin that can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning and lead to illness, brain damage and possibly death.  Read the story here 09:59

Shellfish harvested from RI waters test negative for toxins

domoic-acid-massWhile Rhode Island’s shellfishing industry is still on hold as toxin levels in area waters remain high, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management reported Friday that shellfish meat tested negative for toxic phytoplankton. “Every time we have found toxicity in the water column, we’ve never found it in the shellfish,” Angelo Liberti of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management told NBC 10 News. A harmful algae bloom forced a precautionary closure of Narragansett Bay, Mt. Hope Bay, Kickemuit River, Sakonnet River, as well as their tributaries, on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7. Authorities hope that the shellfishing industry will be fully operational again soon. That’s good news for shellfishermen, who have been out of work since the closure was enacted. If the remaining shellfish samples come back negative, they could be back in business as soon as next week. Read the story here 15:05

Declining biotoxin levels – Some Down East shellfishing areas reopened

On Thursday, the Department of Marine Resources re-opened somedomoic-acid-mass of the coastline between Calais and Cutler for the harvest of clams, mussels and carnivorous snails, and said clamming will be allowed on a portion of the coast between Isle Au Haut to Winter Harbor. Shellfish harvesting on much of the Down East coast remains restricted because of an algae bloom that produces a toxin that can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning, or ASP, in humans. It is unclear if the limited reopening Thursday means the bloom is clearing up or if harvesting bans will be removed in other areas soon. “We can’t speculate, but we continue to test shellfish and phytoplankton along the coast, both inside and outside the impacted areas, and will re-open areas as soon as test results allow,” said Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the department of Marine Resources. Lifting the emergency restrictions was a relief to clammers who have been kept off the flats for the last two weeks. Read the story here 08:32

First in Maine, Now in Massachusetts. Toxic algae outbreak halts shellfishing in Buzzards Bay, Mount Hope Bay

domoic-acid-massThe state’s Division of Marine Fisheries has banned shellfishing in the west side of Buzzards Bay and in Mount Hope Bay because of a breakout of toxic algae late last week. The ban affects all SouthCoast towns and cities. “As a result of the closure, digging, harvesting, collecting and/or attempting to dig, harvest or collect shellfish, and the possession of shellfish, is prohibited in Bourne, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Falmouth, Gosnold, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Swansea and Westport,” the state said in a press release. The trouble concerns a toxic kind of phytoplankton termed Pseudo-Nitzschia. This algae can produce domoic acid, a biotoxin that concentrates in filter-feeding shellfish. Read the story here 08:37

Toxic algae bloom closes Downeast Maine shellfish industry

1090448_673191-mecoastcontamination-e1475805743872Last week, the Department of Marine Resources issued a recall of mussels, clams and quahogs caught in Downeast Maine after samples tested positive for domoic acid, a biotoxin that causes illness, memory loss, brain damage and possibly death in humans. At the same time, the state banned harvesting for mussels, clams, oysters and carnivorous snails on parts of a wide swath of coastline from Deer Isle to the Canadian border. “A closure for this toxin in Eastern Maine is unprecedented, that is not anything anyone has ever seen,” said Darcie Couture, a Brunswick marine scientist and former head of the state’s marine biotoxin program. “No one on this coast is that experienced with a domoic acid event,” Couture said. “I don’t think it is sinking in how serious this is.” Read the story here 23:07

Dungeness crab get qualified thumbs-up in tests for domoic acid

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The fate of the Dungeness crab season will hang on the test results coming out of an East Bay lab. With the beginning of the season approaching in November, the California Department of Public Health has begun safety tests on Dungeness crab a few weeks earlier than usual. Dungeness crab samples collected from Crescent City (Del Norte County) all the way down to Monterey are filing in to the Food and Drug Laboratory Branch in Richmond, where they are tested for domoic acid, the naturally occurring but potentially devastating neurotoxin that wreaked havoc on last year’s season. So far, results are normal for this time of year, said Patrick Kennelly, chief of food safety at the state health department — even though crabs from four of six regions are testing positive for domoic acid. But you can be sure that crabbers, as well as officials from the departments of public health and fish and wildlife, are watching the results closely, with Dungeness crab season due to start Nov. 5 for recreational fishers and Nov. 15 for commercial crabbers. Read the story here 09:42

Next Dungeness crab season remains murky while fishermen are optimistic

dungeoness crab seasonAfter an algae-produced neurotoxin significantly curtailed the last Dungeness crab season, commercial anglers are glad to hear that the upcoming season won’t be spoiled — at least not to the same extent. “We’re not going to see closures of the entire state,” said Raphael Kudela, an ocean sciences professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ben Platt, a crab fishermen who docks his boat at Pillar Point Harbor, said in email to the Review that he and others were feeling optimistic that the domoic acid would not interfere with the start of this year’s season. “We are all hopeful that our season will start as normal on Nov. 15 in Central California based on the overall cooler water temperatures off our coast,” he wrote. “We were able to have a limited season last spring and get people used to buying and eating crab again. “Many of our fishing families were able to get back to work and start paying their bills again,” he said. Read the story here 19:35

Agencies Mull Options to Prepare for Future Domoic Acid Events

CDPH-Crab-Testing-7In 2015/2016, there was an unprecedented bloom of a single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia in ocean waters, which resulted in  elevated levels of domoic acid in Dungeness crab and rock crab. The elevated levels of domoic acid in crab along the West Coast impacted California fisheries from Santa Barbara to the Oregon Border. The conditions that support the growth of Pseudo-nitzschia are impossible to predict, but tend to be more common in the warmer months of the year. Crustaceans, fish and shellfish are capable of accumulating elevated levels of domoic acid in their viscera and muscle tissue. Domoic acid was discovered in California in 1991.  Shortly after, in 1993, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) initiated its marine biotoxin monitoring program and now, through a network of volunteers, routinely collects phytoplankton and bivalve shellfish samples from a number of sampling sites along the coast year-round. Read the rest here 15:41

Trinidad crab tests to determine commercial opener

AR-160429907.jpg&maxh=400&maxw=667The long-awaited opener of the commercial crab season on the North Coast now hinges on six crabs collected just south of Trinidad Head. If the crabs don’t show high levels of a neurotoxin, which has delayed the state’s crab season since Dec. 1, the commercial season could start as soon as May 5, according to Department of Fish and Wildlife senior environmental scientist Pete Kalvass. “That’s holding everything up,” Kalvass said of the Trinidad crab. “… If those six crabs show up clean, we could declare the entire area clear and then open up sport fishing up in that region and commercial (fishing) a week later.” Meanwhile, state officials are gearing up to hear an update on Thursday regarding Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for federal fisheries disaster relief funds and how the state is preparing for future incidents. Read the rest here 07:46

Bay Area crab fishermen prepare for Saturday’s long overdue season opener

The crab pots were piled eight high along the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor dock Wednesday afternoon as Dungeness crab fisherman loaded boats in preparation for Saturday’s long overdue commercial crab fishery opener. After a five-month delay due to the presence of domoic acid, a potentially deadly neurotoxin that had been found in crabs, state health officials determined the crabs “no longer pose a significant human health risk.”  Some have decided it’s not worth the effort this late in the season. As others loaded crab pots onto boats in the Santa Cruz Harbor, longtime crab fisherman Stan Bruno of Santa Cruz was packing up his gear to store it for the summer. Read the rest here 08:26

California Commercial crab season to begin as domoic acid levels drop

dungenesscrabThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife lifted prohibitions against fishing everywhere south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line after state health officials determined the crabs “no longer pose a significant human health risk.” It means the coast is essentially clear of , the potentially deadly neurotoxin that has been found in crabs. Health officials said “low or undetectable levels” of the toxin were found throughout the range, including San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Monterey. “We’re very happy to be going back to work. We hope everybody gets their big pot of boiling salt water going,” said Larry Collins, president of the Crab Boat Owners Association. Read the rest here 07:48

Oregon – Crabs safe after toxin scare; prices fall

A toxic algae bloom that shut down the West Coast’s entire shellfish industry may actually be good news for crab lovers, according to some crabbers. The price for crabs has plummeted because people are hesitant to buy them after the highly publicized toxin scare, reported The Oregonian. But the creatures are safe to eat. “The consumer is going to get a far superior product,” said John Corbin, head of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. “They’re going to get a great, stuffed-full crab right now.” Read the article here 18:44

Southern California crab fishermen given all-clear in toxin scare

crab_picIn another sign that fresh crab meat soon may end up on Sacramento dinner plates, state officials announced Thursday that crabs caught along the Southern California coast are no longer so infused with toxins that they’re unsafe to eat. But the Northern California crab fishery – where most of the region gets its fresh crab – remains closed because of a massive  off the coast. On Thursday, state health and wildlife officials announced that meat from crab caught south of the Piedras Blancas Light Station in San Luis Obispo County “no longer poses a, Read the article here 20:40

Lack of crab ripples through Pillar Point Harbor

smdj_article_1776425155452_1Instead of the hustle and bustle enlivening the docks at Pillar Point Harbor this time of year, little action is afoot with hundreds of crab pots sitting idle as fishermen ponder how to supplement their income while the popular season remains closed. “I told my crew: ‘Guys, if you can find some other work, pick it up. Because it’ll probably be at least a month before we go fishing.’ If I can find other work, I’ll try it too,” said Porter McHenry, a local captain and president of the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association. “You try and stay in high spirits,,, Read the article here 08:59

Dungeness crabbers worry sensationalized domoic acid headlines will scare away demand

dungenesscrabAs Dungeness crabbers in California, Oregon and Washington continue to wait for domoic acid to drop to safe levels so they can begin the already-delayed crabbing season, some fear that falling consumer confidence might impact this season’s prices. According to an executive at a wholesale company who wished to remain anonymous, (source A), despite having “plenty of inventory” to hold them over as the company waits for the fishery to open, “bad press has lowered demand…irresponsible reporting of media on domoic acid has damaged our markets”. Read the article here 14:06

California sea lions suffering from brain damage caused by algal blooms

The thousands of sea lions stranded on California beaches every year may be suffering from brain damage caused by algal blooms, according to a study of animal behavior by UC Santa Cruz researchers. The wave of sick sea lions has baffled scientists and beach-goers, who find them weak, confused or trembling due to seizures. The research, presented Monday at the bi-annual Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in San Francisco, revealed evidence of poisoning by domoic acid, a toxin produced by naturally occurring marine algae. Read the article here 16:02

Getting Close! California’s Dungeness crab season still not ready to begin

dungenesscrab“I don’t know when we will reopen,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton Bonham told a legislative committee in Santa Rosa. “You deserve honesty.” Tests by the California Department of Public Health show levels of domoic acid, a biotoxin that has tainted this year’s crabs, have declined to safe levels from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. But it will take another round of clean tests for Fish and Wildlife to consider opening the commercial crab season in those areas, and levels of domoic acid remain high in northern counties from Sonoma to the Oregon border. Read the article here 07:43

Tests show progress toward lifting of Dungeness closure

dungenesscrabSport-crabbers could be back on South Coast bays in less than two weeks, and the state’s commercial crabbing fleet is eyeing a Dec. 15 opener after new tests on Dungeness crab show that levels of domoic acid that closed the fisheries are now falling, authorities said. But all eyes are on Monday’s results of Dungeness samples taken last weekend for Brookings and Port Orford to see whether they mirror crab in Coos and Winchester bays as dropping beneath health-alert levels or whether they join Northern California ports still seeing potentially unhealthy levels. Read the article here 07:11

Toxin Levels Dropping in California Crabs

dungenesscrabSeafood lovers and California’s commercial fishermen received good news Thursday as tests revealed dropping levels of the dangerous neurotoxin that has temporarily delayed the state’s crab season. Dungeness crab caught and surveyed from the San Francisco Bay, Half Moon Bay and Morro Bay were found to have safe levels for domoic acid, according to test results from the California Department of Public Health. Read the article here 15:32