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More of South Sound closed to shellfish harvesting

Volunteer Paul Maury unloads a harvested sack of Pacific oysters Wednesday morning at the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm.
Volunteer Paul Maury unloads a harvested sack of Pacific oysters Wednesday morning at the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm. The Olympian

More beaches in Thurston County will be closed to shellfish harvesting after tests were positive for diarrhetic shellfish poison, according to a news release.

Beaches south of Boston Harbor in Budd Inlet were closed earlier this spring. The new closure expands north, beginning at Steamboat Island and continuing east to Hunter Point, then south to Cooper Point and east across Budd Inlet to Little Fishtrap.

Diarrhetic shellfish poisoning is a biotoxin that, if ingested, can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Symptoms can begin 30 minutes to 12 hours after eating and feel similar to those of food poisoning, said Art Starry, Environmental Health Division Director for Thurston County Public Health and Social Services.

“If there is enough DSP in the shellfish, then it will certainly make someone sick,” Starry said. “In that case, people should go to their physician.”

The Department of Health determines the toxicity of shellfish by micrograms. A DSP toxin number at or above 16 micrograms is considered dangerous. At the Olympia Yacht Club in Budd Inlet, mussels tested for DSP yielded a state record toxin count of 250 micrograms.

“That’s not a state record we want to have,” said Jerry Borchert from the Health Department. “If ingested, you would become violently ill.”

This prompted researchers to test waters north of Boston Harbor, which yielded a DSP toxin count of 24 micrograms — high enough to enact a closure with no definitive ending.

“We will continue to monitor more frequently, but we can’t predict a time when it will end,” Borchert said. “Every situation is different.”

For more information, call The state Department of Health hotline at 800-562-5632. To view the state’s map of closed areas, go to https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html

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