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Red Tide closes Shellfish Beds


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Sunday's Boston Globe had this article about a huge "Red Tide", or algae bloom that has crept down the coast, closing shellfish beds to harvest from the Cape to the New Hampshire border. Maine clam and oyster harvests have been suspended from the NH border to Cape Small, Phippsburg with the exception of Spinney Creek, Eliot, north of the 103 causeway. Spinney Creek is a semi-impounded tributary.

The article says Department of Marine Resources started tracking the bloom in the Gulf of Maine a few weeks ago. A persistent Low Pressure system dragged itself down from the Maritimes, then decided to move in-shore last week, pushing the bloom land-ward. This stubborn low pressure has been spinning around here for a long while, keeping temperatures lower than average (it's 47° for the tenth or so morning in a row) and the heat wave the rest of the country's got from getting anywhere near us. These things usually move off-shore taking algae blooms with it. Not so right now.

The closure is expected to last two to four weeks.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

UPDATE:

This mornings TV newscast reports that coastal Maine has been tested for bacteria PPM at seventeen spots. Two spots were over the federal limit, four were just under but too close to consider re-opening to harvesters and the rest should re-open next week.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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A bit late, but an Update from The New York Times.

Scientists and state officials say the outbreak, possibly caused by an unusually cold and wet winter and spring, is worsening and, at minimum, is expected to last several weeks. The chief shellfish biologist in Massachusetts, J. Michael Hickey, said two-thirds of the shellfish beds in the state had been closed, including, late on Friday, all the shellfish flats off Nantucket Island.

It is expected to have major economic impact:

The closings are cramping the shellfish industry, which earns much of its revenue from soft-shell clams that Cape Cod vacationers clamor for in the summer.

"It's tens of thousands of dollars a day just in Wellfleet," said Molly Benjamin, who farms oysters and littlenecks there. "It's 'killing' people. I mean nobody was ready."

This appears to be a different strain from the Red Tide found in more southerly waters. Fortunately it only effects the bivalves and not such creatures as lobsters or shrimp.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I hate to say it but what we need is a huge, rockin' gale to push this malevolent stuff outta here. grrrrrr!

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I have learned tonight that I am totally wrong on the gale solution. Apparently, a long stretch of hot sunny weather will foster native algae to consume that offensive bacteria, thus bringing the alexandriae algae to acceptable levels.

More about the historic red tide here.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Tried to look on-line and find out today, but is there any prediction as to when the clam and oyster beds in Wellfleet will reopen?

I will be in Wellfleet at the end of July, so I am quite concerned.

S. Cue

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  • 2 weeks later...

Article in this week's Portland Phoenix about current red tide conditions both in Maine waters and in area restaurants.

Justin Cross, chef of Scales in the Portland Public Market used to dig for clams himself and is often frustrated when customers become apprehensive about his raw bar options. Read all about it and more.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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In Maine, the coast is tested in 140 places twice a week. If toxin levels are below a safe point for two consequtive rounds, they open for business.

Last I heard the closure for mussels went to Small Point. Clams and Oysters as far as Owl's Head. East of that for all species of shellfish is in the clear.

Clammers up there must be working overtime to fill the backorders for the Fourth. My prediction is that New England will sneak in enough safe fresh product for the holiday but the price won't drop until mid-July, if at all.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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You should be finestkind, Fred.

Stop by the Harbor Fish Market and see what's up. I just got Soft Shell Primes for $1.99 each today

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Flats in Brunswick, Freeport, Scarborough and Biddeford have been cleared for clam harvesting as of Thursday. Areas in Eastern Casco Bay, Middle Bay, Long Reach, Harpswell Cove and Thomas Point Beach, remain closed to digging.

Seven towns in Massachussets have also opened their clam flats for licensed diggers.

Steamed Clams may be safely consumed this weekend. They run about $12/plate

"Red Tide Abates" from today's Portland Press Herald

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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