October 28, 2005
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced today that oyster harvesting by the public will be delayed in some Texas coastal waters because of red tide, a toxic algae.
Oyster season begins Nov. 1, but harvesting will not be allowed in Aransas Bay, Corpus Christi Bay and all of the Laguna Madre including South Bay. DSHS officials also are reminding people not to eat oysters, clams, mussels or whelks from these areas until the effects of red tide have ended.
The red tide toxin can remain in the tissue of oysters, clams, mussels and whelks for several weeks after red tide is no longer visible in the water. DSHS will continue to test these shellfish and will announce when the closed areas are opened.
The consumption reminder does not apply to shrimp, finfish or crabs or to commercially harvested oysters.
Oyster harvesting will be allowed in other approved areas along the coast beginning Nov. 1 except for West Galveston Bay. The bay was not affected by red tide but will remain closed to oyster harvesting until harvest-area markers destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Rita are replaced.
The red tide algae contain a toxin that can accumulate in the tissue of oysters, clams, mussels and whelks and cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, or NSP, in humans who consume them. NSP symptoms can include a reversal of hot and cold sensations, nausea, dizziness, dilated pupils and tingling sensations and numbness in the extremities.
Shellfish harvesters should get the 2005 Shellfish Harvest Maps at local Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offices and should check the current status of open and closed areas by calling DSHS at 1-800-685-0361.
(News Media: for more information contact Kirk Wiles, DSHS Seafood and Aquatic Life Group, at 512-834-6757; or Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, 512-458-7524.)