LONG BEACH — It will be a peaceful Christmas for razor clams from Westport, Washington, to Coos Bay, Oregon, as marine toxin levels continue to keep recreational digging seasons closed.
On Monday clam digs were announced for three Washington beaches north of Grays Harbor between Jan. 8 and Feb. 26. And depending on a new round of test results, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches between Ocean Shores and the Quinault Indian Reservation may open Dec. 30 and 31.
But Pacific County beaches will remain closed. The Long Beach Peninsula, which has a modern record number of clams, has suffered from too-high levels of the marine toxin domoic acid all season. Twin Harbors beach between Willapa Bay and Westport was open early in the season that started in October, but has also been closed in recent weeks due to domoic.
The toxin does not harm clams, but can result in death and serious illness in humans, in addition to harming memory functions.
“We’re continuing to monitor domoic acid levels at all our ocean beaches,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “As soon as testing indicates the clams at Long Beach or Twin Harbors are safe to eat, we’ll announce digs there.”
Domoic levels in clam meat must be 19 parts per million or less at all test sites on a beach before it is opened. The most recent round of testing on Dec. 12 found 21 ppm at one test site near the north end of the Peninsula, 16 ppm at the other northern site, 27 ppm in the middle of the Peninsula and 21 ppm in the south. On Dec. 4, results at the same locations were 24, 33, 25 and 35 ppm.
Results for Twin Harbors were 22 ppm in the north, 15 ppm in the middle and 23 ppm in the south. On Dec. 4, Twin Harbor results were 17, 13 and 25 ppm.
Dec. 12 results were 6 ppm at Copalis and 9 ppm at Mocrocks.
Toxin levels on south Washington beaches are much better than those in Oregon. Oregon’s latest razor clam results released Dec. 19 are 79 ppm on the Clatsop beaches, 300 ppm in Newport, 240 ppm in Coos Bay and 360 ppm from clams collected in Siuslaw Bay.