The 2016-17 coastal razor clam season has come to an end after testing for marine toxins showed they had increased beyond the action level at Mocrocks Beach.
Test results on razor clams gathered from Long Beach and Twin Harbors last week found domoic acid levels had exceeded the 20 parts per million action level set by state Department of Health, but Mocrocks was still under the cutoff.
At that time, Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shellfish manager, was somewhat concerned given the fact they were seeing a rise of marine toxin levels on all beaches. Two rounds of testing are required under state health rules before a beach can be open for digging.
“Unfortunately, toxin levels are on the rise and are unlikely to drop before the end of the month, when the clams begin to spawn and the beaches are closed to digging,” Ayres said in a news release.
Domoic acid, a natural toxin produced by certain types of marine algae, can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities.
Copalis Beach had also reached the allowable seasonal harvest levels, and the beach also showed toxin levels had now exceeded the action level.
State Fish and Wildlife will conduct stock assessment work during the summer, and will plan dates sometime in September or October for the fall digging season.
Turnout during the most recent digs on April 26 to May 1 was way up, and digging success was fairly good with 101,179 digger trips coast-wide taking home 1,916,667 razor clams.
“We had a big weekend with some amazing crowds of diggers, and I can honestly say as far back as I can find we broke record single-day crowds.”
The 17,784 diggers on Sunday (April 30) at Long Beach on the southern coast was a record breaker and the previous high was in around 13,000 on a single day. The 9,305 diggers at Mocrocks on Saturday (April 29), which is a much smaller beach compared to Long Beach broke a record turnout. The previous all-time high was 8,200.
From April 25-May 1, 59,550 diggers at Long Beach had 1,294,386 clams for 21.7 average (the first 25 clams dug at Long Beach only, elsewhere the limit is 15 clams daily regardless of size or condition is a daily limit); from April 26-30, 12,614 at Twin Harbors had 188,751 for 15.0; on April 28 and 30, 16,956 at Copalis had 254,338 for 15.0; and on April 27 and 29, 12,058 at Mocrocks had 179,192 for 14.9.
A breakdown on day-by-day success at Long Beach was 23.3 on April 26, 25.0 on April 27, 24.2 on April 28, 24.2 on April 29, 15.5 on April 30 and 25.0 on May 1. At Twin Harbors it was 15.0 on April 26, 14.9 on April 27, 14.8 on April 28, 15.0 on April 29 and 15.0 on April 30. At Copalis it was 15.0 on April 28 and 30; and at Mocrocks it was 15.0 on April 27 and 14.8 on April 29.
The total since the season began on Oct. 14 showed 274,173 diggers coast-wide with 4,056,441 clams. A breakdown is 77,778 at Long Beach with 1,555,113 clams for 20.0 clam per person average; 62,893 at Twin Harbors with 834,086 for 13.3; 82,108 at Copalis with 1,040,193 for 12.7; 57,958 at Mocrocks with 686,628 for 11.8; and 637 at Kalaloch with 1,410 for 2.2.