Razor clam digs postponed until further notice due to spike in marine toxins

The recreational razor clam season on coastal beaches is postponed effective immediately until further notice, and includes digs tentatively scheduled from Sunday, Nov. 6 through Sunday, Nov. 13, according to shellfish managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). 

Test results on razor clams indicate that domoic acid levels are trending upward or, on most beaches, have exceeded the health guidelines for safe consumption set by Washington Department of Health (WDOH) officials.

“Recent storms appear to have resulted in a rapid increase in razor clam toxin levels, which requires immediate closures to these affected beaches,” said Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager. “We’ll continue to work closely with our partners at WDOH to closely monitor razor clam toxin levels and reopen harvest as soon as clams are safe to eat.”

In the November 1 toxin tests, Mocrocks showed toxin results at the unsafe for consumption level. All other local beaches show toxin levels rising over the recent testing schedule, but not above the unsafe level. Twin Harbors and Long Beach both show a rapid increase in domoic acid from the October 27 to November 1 tests.

Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. More information about domoic acid, as well as current levels at ocean beaches, can be found on WDFW’s domoic acid webpage.

WDFW shellfish staff will continue to regularly dig test samples of razor clams to monitor the situation. WDOH requires that two test samples taken 10 days apart, must fall under the health guideline level before a beach can reopen for digging. 

WDFW will announce future opportunities when marine toxin tests show it is safe to do so.

For more information, go to the WDFW’s razor clam webpage and the DOH webpage. The 2022-23 Razor Clam Management Plan is available on the WDFW’s website. To be notified of in-season rule changes as they are announced sign up for email notifications at wdfw.wa.gov/about/lists.