Biotoxins in shellfish lead to closure at Discovery Bay

Danger signs have been posted near public access points

DISCOVERY BAY — Discovery Bay is closed to shellfish harvesting due to high levels of marine biotoxins discovered in the water.

Shellfish samples taken from Discovery Bay were found to contain elevated levels of the marine biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning, resulting in the state Department of Health closing the beaches around the bay for all shellfish harvesting, Jefferson County Environmental Health said in a press release.

Danger signs have been posted at public access points warning people not to consume shellfish from this area.

Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP) can cause gastrointestinal illness, which can occur when someone eats shellfish contaminated with toxins from marine plankton dinophysis, the press release said.

Symptoms of DSP include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The onset of symptoms can range from 30 minutes to four hours after consumption. If mild symptoms occur, people are urged to call their primary health care provider and Jefferson County Public Health.

If people suffer severe reactions, they should call 9-1-1.

Environmental Public Health Director Pinky Mingo stressed that people should avoid eating shellfish from there, and while the closure is not necessarily routine, they do happen periodically due to the rise in natural toxins.

Sequim Bay and the beaches along the Pacific Ocean are also closed to shellfish harvesting due to biotoxins, according to the state’s website.

In addition to the shellfish closure, Anderson Lake remains closed due to high levels of toxic cyanobacteria.

Additional information regarding DSP can be found at

A map of which areas are safe to harvest shellfish at in Washington can be found at Information can also be obtained by calling the Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632.

Information on the regulations and fishing seasons can be forund at or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change Hotline at 1-866-880-5431.


Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at

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