Shellfish expert warns people against shellfish

Posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2000

KODIAK (AP) -- A shellfish expert is warning residents and visitors not to harvest or eat local shellfish because of an upcoming series of low tides.

Eating the shellfish could result in paralytic shellfish poisoning, which can be fatal, said Brian Himelbloom, an associate professor of microbiology at the Fishery Industrial Technology Center. The toxin comes from algae that is a food source for shellfish like clams and mussels.

Beginning Thursday, minus tides of between 2.2 and 2.7 feet will occur repeatedly in the region. Himelbloom said over the July 4 weekend, extreme minus tides of up to 2.7 feet will occur.

Not only are there extreme low tides at a time of year, but the sea is blooming with plankton, Himelbloom said.

Until more is known about the occurrence of PSP on local beaches, or quick tests become readily available, there is no sure way to tell if the clams or mussels are safe to eat, he said.

''Shellfish gathered from beaches around Kodiak Island have yielded the highest recorded concentrations of toxins anywhere in the state, possibly the world,'' Himelbloom said. ''This time of year is an especially bad time for PSP.''

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