Seafood Safety

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With almost a hundred dead dolphins washed ashore in our area, is it really safe to eat seafood?

Although the state health department has not issued an official warning, there’s no denying that something is killing our marine mammals. So, could it kill us?

Three more dolphin deaths Wednesday brings the total to 91. Fish and Wildlife officials now believe the dolphins are ingesting the toxin after eating smaller fish and shellfish that have been infected, leaving the question open – can humans get it if we eat seafood?

As the fishermen return to the docks this afternoon, Dr. Peter Sylvester from the Bay County Health Department says people should use their own judgment when deciding whether or not to eat filter feeders like oysters, clams, shrimp, and other locally caught seafood.

“There’s no way I can tell you that it’s 100-percent safe to [eat] those things that you just asked me about, and any person who has qualms; I can’t fault their prudence for saying, okay, for right now, maybe I don’t want to do that.”

Fish and Wildlife officials say local fish should be safe to eat because the deadly toxin stays in their stomach and intestines, which we do not eat but dolphins do. However, shellfish like oysters, clams, shrimp, and scallops are filter feeders, and they could possibly pass on the infection.

State marine officials closed down St. Joe Bay to oyster and clam harvesting back in November due to red tide. They are currently testing gulf waters to see if any other areas need to be monitored as well.

The toxin killing all the dolphins is believed to be a super relative of red tide. Fish and Wildlife officials say the dolphins are dying in the gulf and then washing into the bay.