LONG BEACH - On Feb. 13 the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) released test data for razor clams on the Peninsula, which showed a big drop from those taken in late January, but tests done on Feb. 27 show levels are back up again.
According to the Feb. 13 samples, domoic acid levels on the Peninsula dropped to 38 parts per million (ppm), which was a noticeable drop from those taken on Jan. 28, which were tested at 62 ppm.
But WDFW said on Monday that domoic acid levels for Peninsula razor clams were back up to 59 ppm.
"As we have been saying for the last several updates, the overall trend is toward decreasing levels of domoic acid, with some fluctuation in those levels between sample periods," said Dan Ayres, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Coastal Shellfish Lead Biologist. "These fluctuations appears to be nothing more than a function of sample variation.
"We have seen a fair amount of bouncing around of those numbers for Long Beach."
The clamming season on the Peninsula was poised to begin last fall, but tests done on Oct. 31 indicated a level of 132 ppm, which has been the high point in terms of domoic acid levels for the 2002-03 season.
Since that time, domoic levels have jumped around quite a bit. They dipped as low as 38 ppm in mid-February, which is the lowest level detected this season and the closest to the action level of 20 ppm.
Before beaches could be opened for clamming, samples collected by WDFW, two sets of samples no more than 10 days apart would have to be below the 20 ppm level. In addition, a third sample would also have to be below the action level, which would be tested as close to the season opener as possible, according to Ayres.
"The chance of spring season on the Peninsula is still slim," said Ayres. "Our past experience tells us it won't happen, based on seasons when there wasn't a clamming season."
According to Ayres, testing will continue. He said if samples do come back below the 20 ppm level, the season would be opened.
"At that point, we would open as much digging as we could," said Ayres. "Clams begin to spawn in late May and we typically don't allow any clamming after that."
WDFW is currently sampling the state's five clamming areas once every two weeks, including Long Beach. The next samples are scheduled to be tested in mid-March.
Results from these tests are posted on WDFW's web site at: www.wa.gov/wdfw/fish/shelfish/razorclm/levels/levels.htm
Ayres said there may be a slight delay before the web site is updated once the results are made available.
Washington clamming domoic acid levels:
Beach Feb. 27 Feb. 13 Jan. 28
Long Beach: 59 ppm 38 ppm 62 ppm
Twin Harbors: 69 ppm 61 ppm 59 ppm
Copalis: 83 ppm 78 ppm 99 ppm
Mocrocks: 63 ppm 108 ppm 75 ppm
Kalaloch: 102 ppm 68 ppm 103 ppm