OLYMPIA - A razor clam dig tentatively scheduled Nov. 11-13 at four coastal beaches will proceed as planned if a second marine toxin test confirms that the clams on those beaches are safe to eat, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced Tuesday.
All four beaches - Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks - passed the first round of tests for domoic acid "with flying colors," said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager.
WDFW will announce a final decision about whether to proceed with the dig by Nov. 9, based on the results of a second round of tests scheduled this week.
"The season opener last month drew thousands of diggers, and we have high hopes for the dig scheduled to begin on Veterans Day," Ayres said. "But toxin levels can change within a few days, so diggers need to wait for the final word before heading to the beach."
The Washington Department of Health requires WDFW to conduct two rounds of tests for domoic acid prior to any razor clam dig, Ayres said. The toxin, which is produced by certain types of algae and absorbed by razor clams, can be harmful - and potentially fatal - if consumed in sufficient quantities.
Kalaloch Beach, where a toxin-producing bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia algae washed ashore last July, will remain closed to digging in November, Ayres said. Jointly managed by WDFW and Olympic National Park, clams tested at Kalaloch Beach still exceed the state and federal health standard for domoic acid of 20 parts per million.
"Fortunately, our coastwide harmful algal bloom monitoring work confirms the other beaches have not been hit by toxic blooms so far this year," Ayres said. "We're hoping that holds, and that Kalaloch clears up soon."
As currently planned, digging will be allowed on evening tides Nov. 11 through Nov.13 at all four of the state's other razor-clam beaches. No digging will be allowed before noon those days on any of those beaches.
WDFW has also tentatively scheduled another dig on evening tides Dec. 10 through Dec. 12 at the same four beaches.
For best results, Ayres advises diggers to start digging about an hour before low tide, noted below for each day of the scheduled digs this month and next:
Nov. 11: 5:33 p.m. -0.6 ft.
Nov. 12: 6:18 p.m. -1.2 ft.
Nov. 13: 7:04 p.m. -1.5 ft.
Dec. 10: 5:12 p.m. -0.7 ft.
Dec. 11: 6:01 p.m. -1.2 ft.
Dec. 12: 6:49 p.m. -1.5 ft.
Those interested in harvesting razor clams are reminded that a license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2004 annual shellfish/seaweed license purchased last spring is still valid.
One new option is a "razor clam only" license now available in both annual and 3-day versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW web site at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov