New grant expands toxic shellfish monitoring - Kodiak Daily Mirror: Local News

New grant expands toxic shellfish monitoring

Posted: Friday, April 5, 2019 8:22 am

On a recent Tuesday evening, Andie Wall, an environmental technician for the Kodiak Area Native Program, was collecting shellfish on Mission Beach. After she and a volunteer half filled a bucket with butter clams, the pair trudged through tide pools to collect their next target: blue mussels. Wall explained that the shellfish will be sent to a lab in Sitka, where they’ll be tested for saxitoxin. Shellfish become infected with toxins by filter feeding when certain harmful algal blooms are present in the water –– if shellfish with saxitoxin are eaten, it can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. 

“People make jokes about it, like: feed them to your cat first,” Wall said, before noting the seriousness of PSP, which can be fatal. Wall has only been professionally involved in shellfish monitoring for a couple of months, but she grew up on Kodiak Island, so acknowledging the risks of toxic shellfish has long been part of her life. 

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