LONG BEACH - Clam diggers have the go-ahead to proceed with an evening razor-clam dig this week after marine toxin tests found that the clams at all five ocean beaches are safe to eat.
In fact, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has expanded evening digs at two of those beaches - Long Beach and Twin Harbors - to run from Friday, Feb. 26, through Monday, March 1.
Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, said two evenings of digging were added to the scheduled opening at Long Beach, which lost five days of digging last month due to elevated marine toxin levels.
"The good news is that toxin levels were well within the safe zone at all five razor-clam beaches," Ayres said. "The bonus for Long Beach is that we were able to add two additional digging days because the clams that would have been taken last month are still available for harvest."
On the Long Beach Peninsula, levels of domoic acid and paralytic shellfish poisoning are both well below the safe threshold levels mandated by the Washington State Department of Health. In particular, PSP levels are mostly about 45 micrograms per 100 grams of clam sample. The last clam opening here was canceled after levels reached 82 micrograms per 100 grams. The cutoff level for closure is 80. Domoic levels are less than 1 part per million; the safe threshold level is 20.
Twin Harbors also has enough clams to add an additional evening of digging to the schedule, Ayres said.
Two other beaches - Copalis and Mocrocks - will be open for evening digging Friday, Feb. 26, through Sunday, Feb. 28, and Kalaloch Beach will be open the evenings of Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 28.
The National Park Service scheduled the dig at Kalaloch Beach, which is located within the Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at other coastal beaches.
Digging will be restricted to the hours between noon and midnight each day at all beaches. The best time to start digging is an hour or two before low tide, said Ayres, who recommends taking a lantern for evening digs.
Below is the digging schedule and evening low tides for the upcoming opening, as computed by WDFW:
? Friday, Feb. 26, (4:49 p.m., -0.7) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
? Saturday, Feb. 27, (5:34 p.m., -0.9) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
? Sunday, Feb. 28, (6:16 p.m., -0.8) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
? Monday, Mar. 1, (6:57 p.m., -0.1) Long Beach and Twin Harbors only
Ayres noted that additional openings will be announced after biologists have reviewed the harvest data for the February dig.
Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger's clams must be kept in a separate container. Clam diggers are no longer required to display their licenses on outer clothing.
A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009-10 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various licensing options are available on the WDFW Web site at (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov).