I love shellfish, mussels, oysters, crabs, you get the idea. I eat much less of it today because of many ocean issues, however based on a recent article I might be eating a lot less. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggest a link between rising ocean temperatures and shellfish, in particular the rising levels of domoic acid, a dangerous neurotoxin found in shellfish .Domoic Acid is a micro algae that can accumulate in clams and mussels and it can climb the food chain to crabs, anchovy and eventually be harmful to humans and wildlife including sea lions and sea birds.
We have seen unsafe levels of domoic acid in shellfish before, as recently as 2015 when record high ocean temperatures and toxic algae blooms occurred forcing the closure of Dungeness crab fisheries from Alaska to Southern California. This occurred again in 2016 when harvesting of dungeness crab was delayed in certain west coast areas. Severe exposure to the neurotoxin can lead to difficult breathing, memory loss and in severe cases even coma and death.
A new study compares domoic acid levels and warming Ocean Temperatures
Researchers have been collecting data on domoic acid levels in razor clams over a twenty year period and when they compare this to recurring climate patterns along the West Coast they are able to see how warm ocean periods relate to high acid levels.
Rising Ocean Temperatures and Shellfish
“The most important takeaway from the study is that it’s telling us about changes in the food web based on long-term observations of changes in the oceans. It’s a very zoomed out view of how the food web responds to natural changes to ocean conditions. That’s very important when you talk about resource management,” says Morgaine McKibben.the lead author of the new study.
Along with the impact of ocean acidification on the economics of West Coast crab and oyster fisheries this new health issue “is something we’ll now be dealing with for a long time” says crab fisherman Bob Eder in Newport, Oregon.
Read more about the economic and health impact of domoic acid and how rising ocean temperatures and shellfish are connected, at NPR the Salt: See our related post on Leonardo DiCaprio’s purchase of a Farmed Fish company, is farming seafood the answer to diminished fish stocks?? See: DiCaprio Finds Ocean Conservation in Farmed Seafood