Storms can bring a bounty to the beach - driftwood sometimes or in this case, clams! But be careful out there. There are new concerns about emerging levels of harmful algae in Western Alaska waters, which could impact shellfish and human health.
Observation by Lisa Charles with the help of Jackie Schaeffer:
The storms blessing! So many clams right on top of the mud. . Didn't even need to use a shovel.
Comment by LEO editors:
Thanks Jackie for sharing. Its an awesome haul of clams. This was a Facebook post (see below) but Jackie confirmed we can share it with LEO Network. What caught our eye is not only the great harvest, but also the context, with two articles we recently published from the Nome Nugget (see attached). Some caution may be warranted due to recent high levels of harmful algae detected in the Norton Sound area. For more information about food safety related to shellfish and harmful algae, we recommend contacting the regional environmental health office at Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), or the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Health Office. For information about testing of shellfish or water monitoring, a good contact is the the Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research (SEATOR). For more information about harmful algae, the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom network. Their websites are attached. We have copied these entities in this post. Please note, we have seen no information about the presence or absence of harmful algae in shellfish harvested in the Newtok area or in the YK Delta. But with changes occurring in the marine environment with algae further north, we recommend development of a shellfish monitoring program such as other regions in Alaska. Sampling to test the clams is possible and ADEC Laboratory has provided some information below on how to do this. There are also good systems in place through various Tribes and Tribal Organizations for setting up local sampling programs. Whether clams are tested or not, it is important to be aware of the risks that go along with eating shellfish. *
Be sure to contact a health care provider immediately if you feel sick or unwell after consuming shellfish.
There is some good guidance provided from the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program (brochure attached):
• For more information on harmful algae toxins—symptoms, treatment, etc.—call the Alaska Section of Epidemiology at (907) 269-8000 Monday–Friday or (800) 478-0084 after hours.
• If you see marine wildlife acting in an unusual way, sick or dead, please contact: USFWS, Marine Mammals Management: (800) 362-5148. Mike Brubaker
Comment from Dr. Bob Gerlach:
There is general agreement that to be safe the shellfish should be evaluated for PSP and Domoic Acid. The lab submission forms can be found on the Environmental Health lab webpage: https://dec.alaska.gov/eh/lab/lab-submission-manual-forms.aspx
Here is the link to the pdf form. file:///C:/Users/bgerlach/Downloads/form-sc-18-marine-toxins-sample-receipt-2-2020%20(2).pdf
Matt Forrester, Biologics Analysis Manager at the lab, suggested contacting Bruce Wright at the Knik tribe firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Thomas Farrugia email@example.com as they would be a good resource to make recommendations on a sampling plan.