Briefs

Published on Thu, Sep 28, 2006
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Briefs

Classes teach how to garden by the bay
The Shore Stewards, a volunteer group led by Washington State University’s Beach Watchers program, will host a shoreline gardening workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., October 7 at Bellingham’s Maritime Park in the Environmental Learning Center.

Native plant specialist Shelly Wiseberg, along with WSU compost expert Joyce Jimerson and WSU pest management specialist Kristine Schlamp, will teach about creating green gardens while preserving the marine waters that depend on them.

Coffee and pastries will be provided. Cost is $10 per person, $15 per couple and free for members of the Shore Steward program. For more information, call 676-6736.

Beach closures
Marine biotoxins that cause paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) have been detected at concentrations above the safe level in shellfish samples collected from Whatcom County on September 25. As a result, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has closed all Whatcom County beaches to the recreational harvest of shellfish. Commercially harvested shellfish are sampled separately and products on the market should be safe to eat.

Warning signs have been posted at high use public beaches, warning people not to collect shellfish. The closure includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops and other species of molluscan shellfish. Crab is not included in the closure, but the “crab butter” should be discarded, and only the meat should be eaten.

Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing and can be life-threatening. People can become ill from eating shellfish contaminated with the naturally occurring marine algae that contains toxins that are harmful to humans. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begins with tingling lips and tongue moving to the hands and feet followed by difficulty breathing, and potentially death. Any one experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider. For extreme reactions call 911.

In most cases the algae that contain the toxins cannot be seen, and must be detected using laboratory testing.

Therefore, recreational shellfish harvesters should check the DOH website at www.doh.wa.gov or call the DOH Biotoxin Hotline at 800/562-5632 before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington state.
Whatcom County Health department staff will collect additional samples in two weeks to determine if local beaches may be opened for recreational shellfish harvesting.

Fall event cleans up two tons
Last Saturday’s Fall Community Cleanup resulted in almost two tons of trash and other debris removed from the beaches and roadsides of Birch Bay, according to Blaine Bay refuse.