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Marine Toxin Monitoring


Since September 2013, Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation has been submitting shellfish samples to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in Richmond for analysis and detection of naturally occurring marine toxins that will inform local and statewide health advisories and quarantines.

Health Concerns:

Domoic acid is a naturally occurring toxin that is related to a "bloom" of a particular single-celled diatom called Pseudo-nitzschia, while PSP is related to a "bloom" of single-celled dinoflagellates called Alexandrium. The conditions that support the growth of Pseudo-nitzschia and Alexandrium are impossible to predict. Crustaceans, fish and shellfish are capable of accumulating elevated levels of both toxins without apparent ill effects on the animals. Elevated levels of these toxins in crustaceans, fish and shellfish pose a significant risk to the public if these adulterated products are consumed. Domoic acid and PSP can be fatal to people if consumed in high doses.


Symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating toxic seafood. In mild cases, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and dizziness. These symptoms disappear within several days. In severe cases, the victim may experience trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short-term memory (a condition known as Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma or death.

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning symptoms begin within a few minutes to a few hours after eating toxic shellfish. Symptoms begin with tingling and numbness of the lips, tongue and fingertips. Later symptoms are lack of balance, lack of muscle coordination, slurred speech and problems in swallowing. Complete paralysis and death can occur in severe cases.

Traditional Foods:

There are no mechanisms for these toxins to accumulate in lat (seaweed), therefore it would be safe to consume.  Duu-ma (anemones) should also be safe to eat.

Units & Sampling

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxins:
Units = ug/100g
Alert level = 80ug/100g

Domoic Acid (DA) levels:
Units = parts per million (ppm)
Alert Level = 20 ppm

Mussel samples are taken from around Hunter Rock and Prince Island.

Razor Clam samples are taken from South Beach and crescent Beach when tides allow.

For more information call the Biotoxin Information line at: 1-800-553-4133 or visit


Shellfish gathered are frozen and sent to CDPH for analysis. Mussels are analyzed whole, while Razor clam viscera (guts) and muscle are analyzed separately.

Dee-lhat (Mussel) Biotoxin Results
Date DA  PSP
May 17, 2018 non-detect non-detect
April 20, 2018 non-detect non-detect
March 21, 2018 non-detect non-detect
February 26, 2018 non-detect non-detect
December 16, 2017 non-detect non-detect
September 9, 2017 4.1 non-detect
August 10, 2017 non-detect 33
July 14, 2017 non-detect 36
June 30, 2017 25 non-detect
May 24, 2017 non-detect non-detect
April 27, 2017 non-detect non-detect
March 30, 2017 non-detect non-detect
February 23, 2017 non-detect  49
February 6, 2017 non-detect  67
November 2016 unavailable
October 2016 unavailable unavailable
September 2016 <2.5 Non-detect
August 2016 Non-detect Non-detect
July 2016 2.9 Non-detect
June 2016 14 Non-detect


Met-'e (Razor Clam) Biotoxin Results

Sample Type



razor clam meat 1 5/17/18 13
razor clam meat 2 5/17/18 30
razor clam meat 3 5/17/18 21
razor clam meat 4 5/17/18 20
razor clam meat 5 5/17/18 71
razor clam meat 5/2/18 41
razor clam meat 1 1/1/18 240
razor clam meat 2 1/1/18 170
razor clam meat 3 1/1/18 150
razor clam meat 4 1/1/18 140
razor clam meat 5 1/1/18 150
razor clam meat 6 1/1/18 220
razor clam meat 1 11/4/17 230
razor clam meat 2 11/4/17 130
razor clam meat 3 11/4/17 180
razor clam meat 4 11/4/17 270
razor clam meat 5 11/4/17 180
razor clam meat 6 11/4/17 120
razor clams viscera pooled 11/4/17 190


Next Sample Dates

Razor Clams: 6/13/18

Mussels: 6/1/18


For questions please contact

Rosa Laucci

Rosa Laucci

Marine Biologist

Office 707-487-9255 ext. 1152
Cell 707-951-3712

Jaytuk Steinruck

Jaytuk Steinruck

Tribal Resource Specialist

Office 707-487-9255 ext. 1153


Waa-saa-ghitlh-'a~ Wee-ni Naa-ch'aa-ghitlh-ni

Our Heritage Is Why We Are Strong

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