Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2018


Algal blooms are a natural global phenomenon; however, these blooms can cause harm by depriving the environment of oxygen or through the toxicity of certain algal species. These Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are a public concern in the State of Washington. During these blooms when biotoxins are produced, these toxins build up in filter feeding shellfish causing illness in humans when consumed. Bacterial and pollution also pose a concern to the health of shellfish consumers. The Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) Shellfish Program monitors these concerns and provides the public with information and resources to stay safe while harvesting shellfish. 64 recreational harvests were surveyed over the course of July-September 2018 to help assess the program’s resources. Additional research to assess the program included comparing WDOH resources with other state programs, assessing their social media and providing recommendation to develop and improve outreach materials for the public. The WDOH provides a successful safety map, the most popular method harvesters used to determine where to harvest shellfish safely. Recreational harvesters were more aware of the health risks from biotoxins than the bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus; although there is still some misunderstanding of biotoxins in shellfish. To accomplish its goal of preventing shellfish related illnesses, the Shellfish Program must continue to education the public through its various resources.


Department: MES

MPS Track: CZM

Location: Department of Health Shellfish Program

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