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Toxic algae impacting shellfish harvests in Samish Bay

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An algae bloom creates a natural red tide. It is sometimes toxic. (Getty Images)

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — Toxic algae known as red tide continues to impact Samish Bay, but some areas are reopening this week to commercial shellfish harvesting.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports that the state Department of Health announced Tuesday that as of Monday, two parcels within the bay can reopen for commercial harvesting of manila clams and Pacific oysters.

The entire bay remains closed to recreational harvesting due to the risk of exposure to the algae, which can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning if contaminated shellfish are consumed.

The algae known as red tide was first detected in Samish Bay in potentially unsafe levels in mid-September. The bay was closed Sept. 26 to commercial and recreational shellfish harvesting.

Sampling has shown the biotoxin consistently decreasing throughout much of Samish Bay, but some areas remain highly toxic and others have seen fluctuations.

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