Tragic News for Everyone Looking Forward to Dungeness Crab Season

(Image credit: Kathryn Hill)

On the West Coast, the start of Dungeness crab season is practically a holiday. So this is very sad news for those lined up, crab crackers at the ready, to get their hands on some sweet, succulent seasonal seafood. Dungeness crab is off the table until further notice, warns the California Department of Public Health.

This rather tragic state of affairs stems from the fact that levels of a toxic acid have been found in recently caught shellfish along the coast:

The California Department of Public Health is warning that potentially deadly levels of domoic acid have been found in Dungeness crab and rock crab caught along the coastline between Oregon and the southern border of Santa Barbara County.

This naturally occurring acid comes from a small plant — pseudo-nitzschia — in high bloom right now, and it can lead to nausea and other nasty yet relatively mild symptoms, all the way up to coma and death.


There will be an emergency public meeting addressing the health issue at 8 a.m. Thursday in Sacramento. Aside from the many disappointed crab-lovers, this is a real blow to those whose livelihood depends on crabbing season, so for all their sakes we hope this gets resolved soon.