Island earns first red tide closure of the year

Bainbridge Island earned the county’s first red tide closure of the year.

The eastern side of Bainbridge Island has been closed to the harvest of all clams, mussels and oysters following the discovery of high levels of a dangerous toxin.

It is the first full “red tide” closure in Kitsap County this year, although the entire eastern side of the county remains closed to the harvest of butter clams, according to Jim Zimny of the Kitsap County Health District.

Paralytic shellfish poison is a toxin produced by a species of plankton. The toxin tends to concentrate in the tissues of shellfish. Mussels collected in Eagle Harbor on Monday showed concentrations of 152 micrograms per 100 grams of shellfish tissue, Zimny said. Beaches are closed when the toxin level exceeds 80 micrograms.

When consumed at high levels, the toxin can affect the nerves and breathing and may be life-threatening. Symptoms usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet. Anyone with symptoms should seek medical help.

The toxin cannot be seen and must be detected with laboratory tests.

The new closure area is from Point Monroe to South Beach Road, including all the bays and harbors in the area. The closure does not apply to crabs, but crabs should be cleaned before cooking and the “crab butter” discarded.

For information, call the health district at (800) 2BE-WELL or go to