Red Tide toxins turning up at record levels

"Local health officials say eating shellfish from Dyes Inlet these days can kill you because of an unusually strong Red Tide this season.Bremerton Kitsap County Health officials extended a ban on crustacean harvesting around Dyes Inlet after testing blue mussels from Silverdale County Park July 16 for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) levels.Toxin concentrations in the shellfish exceeded 18 times acceptable levels and, according to health officials, has been on the rise since initially closing the Inlet June 22.This is a record level for Dyes Inlet, said Scott Daniels, a water quality official for the health district. We're not sure why yet it's so high, but we do know the toxin levels can get even higher.Health officials already posted warning signs against shellfish harvesting around the inlet at most public access points. The closure area involves beaches around Dyes Inlet, including Chico Bay, Ostrich Bay, Oyster Bay, Phinney Bay and Port Washington Narrows.For those who just want to go for a swim, health officials say you'll be safe. Toxins are only passed to humans in concentrated levels found in shellfish.There is no way to cook shellfish to protect yourself, Daniels said. And it could be many months before the area is safe for shellfish harvesting again.The health district plans to test these beaches again within a week, but the inlet is closed to shellfishing until further notice.Other areas closed to crustacean harvesting include the entire eastern half of Kitsap County from Apple Cove Point, just north of Kingston, southward to Point Southworth including all of Bainbridge Island, Miller and Liberty bays, Port Madison, Dyes and Sinclair inlets, Rich Passage, Clam Bay and Yukon Harbor.Daniels confirmed, however, that beaches at Hood Canal, on the western portion of Kitsap County are safe for shellfish harvesting.But with current Red Tide trends that endorsement doesn't instill too much confidence, Daniels said."

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