The Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) shellfish program has the mission to protect public health and prevent illness in people who eat molluscan shellfish, which include clams, mussels, and oysters. WDOH's goal is to ensure that shellfish are safe to eat and that people have easy access to information needed for the safe harvesting of shellfish. The WDOH uses SoundToxins phytoplankton monitoring data to prioritize sample locations and shellfish testing frequency. This is an essential function of our early warning system to better protect public health.
For shellfish safety information including current closure sites, click here.
King County staff routinely collects and analyzes phytoplankton samples from Puget Sound. Samples for phytoplankton analysis as well as domoic acid and a suite of water quality parameters are collected by David Robinson using Niskin bottles biweekly (March-October) from three Central Basin locations: northern open water (Point Jefferson), southern open water (East Passage), and Dockton Park at Quartermaster Harbor. Gabriela Hannach is a senior scientist leading the identification of marine phytoplankton and shares this data with the SoundToxins monitoring program.
Kitsap Public Health regularly collects shellfish at 12 locations during the summer and fall, and at 9 locations year-round to conduct biotoxin analysis on the tissue. Their mission is to ensure safe and sanitary waters so that illnesses are minimized for individuals that consume molluscan (hinged) shellfish such as clams, mussels, and oysters. Water samples are collected for phytoplankton analysis at three key locations year-round by Dayna Katula for the SoundToxins program. Identifying harmful species in the water guarantees that potential biotoxin threats are identified and extra tissue analysis can be done where necessary.
Dayna Katula, Ann Moen, and Ian Rork
The NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center studies living marine resources and their habitats in order to assist resource managers in making sound decisions, sustain healthy ecosystems and reduce human health risks. In order to promote safe shellfish and fisheries in the Puget Sound, the SoundToxins program was developed by Dr. Vera Trainer at NWFSC. The funding was initially provided through the West Coast Center for Oceans and Human Health. Vera Trainer and Brian Bill are part of SoundToxins. They provide program oversight, biotoxin, chlorophyll, and macronutrient analysis, phytoplankton identification, and restocking of supplies to partners. Samples collected at Clam Bay by Brian Bill at the NWFSC Manchester Research Station are processed and analyzed at the NWFSC Montlake Lab.