shellfish

This is a California sea lion on Long Beach, Washington, apparently experiencing seizures from domoic acid poisoning in May 2015.
DAN AYRES/WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The West Coast is experiencing the largest bloom of toxic algae in more than a decade, prompting wide-ranging closures of commercial crab and shellfish harvesting.

It’s also causing some very weird behavior in marine wildlife.

Go Undercover With Northwest Shellfish Detectives

May 26, 2015
Detective Wendy Willette of Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife in the police van. Willette heads an operation to unravel a shellfish black market that has sprung up in South Puget Sound.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A man and woman drive a blue pickup to the back of a Chinese restaurant.

A man approaches them with a scale as the woman pulls a bag heavy with clams from the back of the truck.

The transaction is quick and casual, as though they’ve done this before. And they have. But this time, a hidden camera has captured their transaction. 

Poaching 100-Year-Old Geoducks For Big Money

May 26, 2015
Officer Natalie Vorous unpacks boxes of geoduck at Sea-Tac searching for evidence they were harvested legally. These were not. They were confiscated.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Of all the shellfish that sell on the black market, one clam is above the rest -- the geoduck.

Pronounced gooey-duck, these hefty clams bury themselves in sand where they stay for 100 years, doing little more than stretching their meter-long, fleshy siphon up to feed on phytoplankton.

Northwest Faces Greater Risks From Acidifying Waters

Feb 24, 2015

The Pacific Northwest faces a higher risk of economic harm from ocean acidification than other parts of the country, according to a new study released Monday.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found a "potent combination" of risk factors along the coasts of Oregon and Washington. The region has cold ocean water that absorbs carbon dioxide more readily than warmer water, and it has upwelling ocean currents that bring corrosive water to the surface.

KUOW Photo/Katie Campbell

After China banned all imports of West Coast shellfish, officials in the U.S. defended the imports by saying the Chinese tested the wrong parts of the clams.

geoduck
Flickr Photo/USDAgov

Officials in Washington have learned that inorganic arsenic was the toxin detected in a shipment of geoduck from their state to China, not the toxin causing paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP, as they previously believed.

SEATTLE -- New details have been released about geoduck shipments that Chinese officials say contained high levels of inorganic arsenic and the toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP.

In response to their testing, the Chinese government instituted Dec. 3 a ban all U.S. harvested geoduck clams and other bivalve shellfish from Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

Katie Campbell / Earthfix

SAMMAMISH, Wash. — A photograph displayed in Jacki and John Williford’s home commemorates a camping trip that would go down in family history.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

On Monday scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will begin a one-month US West Coast expedition to investigate ocean acidification, an issue that poses a serious threat to the Pacific Northwest’s shellfish industry.

“We will for the first time not only study the chemistry of acidification, but also study the biological impacts on the marine ecosystems in the open ocean,” says Richard A. Feely, a scientist from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Research Laboratory in Seattle. Feely is co-chief of the mission.

Read the full story at KUOW's EarthFix.

EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Washington’s Department of Health closed some shellfish beds in South Puget Sound Wednesday for the first time because of elevated levels of diarrhetic shellfish toxin.