Toxic algae bloom threatens California Dungeness crab season, just weeks before the recreational season is set to start on November 7th.
Increasingly high temperatures and an alarming spread of phytoplankton are the underlying causes of the potential call off of Dungeness crab season in California this year. Earlier this year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that just off the West Coast, a toxic algae bloom was observed.
Algae or phytoplankton ingested by shrimp and other marine organism that constitute the food source of the California Dungeness crabs may produce a toxic acid. Dubbed the domoic acid, it represents a neurotoxin which may cause severe health problems. In addition to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, more severe cases may result in patients suffering seizures or memory loss. Ingesting domoic acid may even be fatal.
As toxic algae bloom threatens California Dungeness crab season, health authorities are monitoring the situation. Fishermen preparing for this holiday season are concerned that the results of test may deliver another blow to the industry.
Don Marshall, president of the California Small Boat Trollers Association, declared:
“If we lose the Thanksgiving market and the holiday market, that’s a crusher for us”.
On the other hand, the California Department of Public Health is currently running tests to establish the levels of domoic acid present on crab beds and in the water. According to official declarations, the tests concern Dungeness crabs encompassing eight areas.
These are: Morro and Monterey Bay, Bodega Bay, Half Moon Bay, Crescent City, Eureka, Trinidad, and Fort Bragg. The results are expected this week, with the California Fish and Wildlife Department urging patience.
The toxic algae bloom threatens California Dungeness crab season, and not only. Due to an intense spread this year, the Pacific seafood industry has taken a significant economic blow. At the same time, coastal tourism, as well as marine ecosystems have been affected. In the state of Washington, crab season was cancelled this summer.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia