OBRC Evening Talk -Marine Biotoxin Program

The Olympic Natural Resources Center (ONRC) will host a Rosmond Evening Talk on Thursday, March 21 at 7 pm. Join us for a presentation by Jerry Borchert from the Washington State Department of Health titled “Protecting our Shellfish Harvest: A Deep Dive into the Department of Health Marine Biotoxin Program.” This talk was originally scheduled for January but had to be rescheduled due to a power outage.

Marine biotoxins are poisons produced by certain kinds of microscopic algae (a type of phytoplankton) that are naturally present in marine waters, normally in amounts too small to be harmful.

However, warm temperatures, sunlight, and nutrient-rich waters can cause rapid plankton reproduction, or “blooms.” These blooms are commonly referred to as harmful algal blooms or “HABs” because of their potential to cause illness. Molluscan shellfish (shellfish with hinged shells such as oysters, clams, and mussels) are filter feeders and ingest any particles, both good and bad, that are in the surrounding water. Algae is a food source for them, and HABs create a plentiful food supply. When shellfish eat toxin-producing algae, the toxin remains in their system; large amounts of algae means more toxin can concentrate in their tissue.

Biotoxins don’t harm shellfish, but they can accumulate in shellfish to levels that can cause illness or death in humans and other mammals that eat them.

This talk will cover how the Washington State Department of Health, Marine Biotoxin Program coordinates the collection of shellfish samples from the coast, coastal bays and Puget Sound for biotoxin testing, explain the different types of marine biotoxins in WA, biotoxin monitoring for Dungeness crab and provide resources for safe shellfish harvesting.

Join in-person in the Hemlock Forest Room at the Olympic Natural Resources Center at 1455 S. Forks Ave, Forks, WA. Or, listen via Zoom using this link: https://washington.zoom.us/j/4669434510. You can watch the recorded presentation later on the ONRC website at https://www.onrc.washington.edu/.

ONRC Evening Talks is funded through the Rosmond Family Education Fund, an endowment that honors the contributions of Fred Rosmond and his family to forestry and the Forks community.

For more information about this event or the Evening Talk Series contact Courtney Bobsin at cbobsin@uw.edu or 360-328-1174.