Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) announced today a Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) biotoxin closure has been expanded this week to include all beaches from Birch Point south to the Skagit County line, including all of Larrabee State Park.
PSP biotoxin is now at potentially lethal levels in Bellingham Bay mussels and Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) biotoxin remains at elevated levels according to WCHD.
WCHD officials warn PSP levels continue to rise in surrounding waters from Samish Bay to Birch Bay as well.
According to WCHD officials:
Mussels pick up biotoxins more quickly than other shellfish. Mussels tend to become much more toxic than other shellfish species when biotoxins are present. Algae that contain marine biotoxins cannot be seen, and must be detected by laboratory testing. PSP and other naturally occurring biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing. Crab meat is not affected, but “crab butter” and crab entrails can harbor biotoxins so they should always be discarded. Molluscan shellfish include clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.
Shellfish sold in restaurants and retail markets have been tested before distribution and are safe to eat.
Biotoxin levels can change rapidly. Shellfish harvesters are advised to “Know Before You Dig”. Always check for current biotoxin and pollution closures at the DOH website: http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/biotoxin.htm or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington State.