By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The state Department of Health announced Friday that beaches along Sequim Bay and Discovery Bay in Clallam County, and Discovery Bay and Port Townsend, including Mats Mats Bay, in Jefferson County are now closed only to recreational harvesting of butter and varnish calms.
The beaches previously had been closed to recreational harvesting of all species of clams — including geoducks — oysters, mussels and other invertebrates, such as the moon snail.
Additionally, beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Clallam County from Pillar Point in the Pysht area west to Cape Flattery are now open for recreational harvesting of all the above-listed species, though beaches along the Strait east of Pillar Point to the Jefferson County line are still closed for all species, as they have been since September.
Jessica Pankey, an environmental health specialist with the environmental health division of Clallam County Health and Human Services, said the all species-closures in Clallam County had been in effect since September.
The changes in beach status come from the most recent tests of shellfish samples for the naturally occurring marine biotoxin associated with paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP, Pankey said.
People can become ill after eating shellfish contaminated with the biotoxin associated with PSP. Shellfish accumulate it in their flesh after eating algae in which the toxin is found.
PSP can cause numbness and muscle paralysis from 15 minutes to 10 hours after the toxin is consumed.
Symptoms include a tingling of the lips and tongue, tingling of the hands and feet, difficulty speaking and difficulty breathing.
If left untreated, paralysis can lead to death.
For information on recreational shellfish harvesting beach closures, see the state Department of Health website at http://tinyurl.com/4xmftw7.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.