Time to start making plans to dig into three coastal beaches next month with some dates finalized and others dates tentative until further marine toxin test results give them the green light to proceed.
“We got some good marine toxin numbers back (from Department of Health) to continue digging at Long Beach through March 31 and to open Mocrocks on March 5-8,” said Dan Ayres, the head state Fish and Wildlife coastal shell fish manager. “One of my (co-workers) went out (Wednesday) night on the Long Beach Peninsula on a plus one-foot low tide got their clams in just 15 minutes.”
Digging at Mocrocks Beach extends from the Copalis River to the south boundary of the Quinault Indian Reservation, and will be open Saturday to Tuesday (March 5-8) during evening low tides only. Two more tentative digs at Mocrocks are March 18-20 during evening low tides, and March 25-27 during morning low tides.
Razor clam digging remains open daily on the southern coast at Long Beach during evening low tides only through March 10.
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Additional tentative digging dates at Long Beach are March 11-14 during morning low tides only; March 15-23 during evening low tides; and March 24-31 during morning low tides. Any additional dates – yet to be determined in April – will occur during morning low tides only.
“It does seem a bit confusing with the switch from morning to evening low tides, but it’s the hand were dealt from Mother Nature during March,” Ayres said. “We’ve got no digs planned for the moment at Copalis as we’re getting close to being done (nearly achieving the season recreational harvest quota) although we’ve agreed with the tribes to add some dates there later on.”
One tentative date that has been agreed upon will coincide with the Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival. Those dates planned to be open at Copalis are March 18-20 during evening low tides only.
The Razor Clam Festival and Seafood Extravaganza is 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on March 18, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 19, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 20 at the Ocean Shores Convention Center.
Events include craft and food vendors, pro and amateur cook-offs, chef cooking demonstrations, best decorated clam art including best decorated shovel, children’s activities and games, music, clam scavenger hunt, entertainment, conservation and cultural exhibits, cooking demonstrations and live music. For details, go to http://www.oceanshores.org/clams/.
State Fish and Wildlife reported an estimated 30,900 diggers showed up last Saturday at Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches, and found excellent digging for razor clams.
“We had absolutely off-the-charts digging, and the weather and surf cooperated providing near limits of clams (the first 15 clams regardless of size or condition is a daily limit) for everyone,” Ayres said. “The clams are really nice in size almost everywhere, but you will see a mixed bag of clam sizes at Mocrocks.”
“Marine toxin test results are looking good at every place except for Twin Harbors, which remains closed for digging, and any chance there now puts us out of the water until mid-March,” Ayres said. “Long Beach has had the lowest toxin levels, but we need to keep a close eye on things as last spring was when we ran into problems everywhere.”
Health test samples taken Feb. 10 at Long Beach showed levels at 13 parts per million, Copalis was 5.0 ppm on Feb. 11, and Mocrocks was 17.0 ppm on Feb. 11, which all falls under the 20 ppm action level.
Elsewhere, samples taken at Twin Harbors was 34 ppm on Feb. 10.
Two clean samples are needed before state Fish and Wildlife can look at opening a beach for digging, and results should come to light on Tuesday.
State Fish and Wildlife take health test samples for domoic acid – a natural marine toxin produced by certain types of marine algae – that can be harmful or even fatal if consumed in sufficient quantities. For updates on domoic acid, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html.