The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a seven-day warning, advising people not to consume whelks, conches, moon snails, blue claw crabs and lobsters harvested from Shinnecock Bay due to the presence of a marine biotoxin, called saxitoxin.
According to the DEC, saxitoxin is a “potent neurotoxin or nervous system poison that at elevated levels is dangerous to human health.”
In a release sent to the media, the DEC states, “Saxitoxin is known to cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans, which affects the nervous system and can lead to muscles becoming paralyzed. In severe cases, paralytic shellfish poisoning can result in respiratory failure and death.”
Because shellfish are filter feeders, they are susceptible to the biotoxin, the DEC says.
The news comes on the sent out last week, warning people not to consume clams, mussels, oysters and scallops from the same area due to the same biotoxins.
The specific area affected, according to the DEC, includes the Shinnecock Bay and its tributaries that lie west of the southbound lanes of the Ponquogue Bridge and east of the western side of the Post Lane Bridge in Quogue.
DEC officials have also found the biotoxin in waters off Huntington.
According to Michael Bopp, spokesman for the DEC, heavy rainstorms, which create run-off, could have contributed to the arrival of the biotoxin.
Bopp says that the DEC is continuing to monitor the situation and will extend the seven-day warning period, if necessary.