With our weather warming and everyone antsy to get out of the house, you can certainly entertain the idea of a beach picnic and having fun with the kids harvesting our local bounty. Nothing is more fun than digging for clams, mussels, and oysters.  But you need to be safe!  Currently, most local crabbing is still closed, but will open soon, so look for an update that includes the guidelines of which crab is legal to take.

All our counties Health Departments’ work closely with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife to monitor the waters and conditions.  Go here for an interactive map that will allow you to pinpoint your location and find beaches open for digs: Shellfish Safety Map  Please also check the Marine Biotoxin Bulletin  Do not be afraid to go digging and have fun.  Just check before you go for the closest open and safe beaches.  Closures do not always mean toxins, but also include the numbers of shellfish available to protect the species.

Many beaches are open on the coast, but you do not need to make a long drive with wonderful opportunities right out your door. The above links will provide all of Washington State’s locations.

Take a picnic from your local Farmer’s Market and bring dinner home in a bucket.  Remember to have ice on hand for safe handling of your hard-earned prized shellfish.  Personal experience says the kids will have a blast!

Also, always beware of sneaker waves. Though more common on the Oregon and California coasts, they also occur here.  A sneaker wave is a large undertow that will haul everything out to sea.  The best medicine is to never turn your back on the sea.

Eating contaminated shellfish with certain high levels of toxins can lead to PSP (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning).  This is rare, but please make sure you are combing a safe beach.  This is a wonderful, educational adventure for the entire family.

Have a beautiful and fun Mother’s Day with the family.