Whatcom County beaches now closed only to varnish, butter clams

Published on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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I just got a press release from the Whatcom County Health Department saying  the county has reopened the harvesting of all types of molluscan shellfish except varnish clams and butter clams on county beaches.

The health department has determined levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) are low enough in all shellfish except varnish and butter clams to allow people to start collecting them from the county's beaches. PSP is nasty stuff and can make any trip to the beach no fun. The earliest symptoms of PSP intoxication include tingling lips and tongue and may be followed by difficulty breathing. If left untreated, PSP poisoning can kill. The toxin shows up in shellfish because they eat algae that contains PSP, which accumulates in the flesh of the shellfish and is not neutralized by cooking or freezing.

For more information on what beaches are closed to what sort of shellfish fishing, check out the Washington State Health Department's website here.


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