The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed until at least Dec. 1 in the waters north of Bodega Head State Marine Reserve to the Sonoma and Mendocino county line because of elevated levels of domoic acid, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday.
The commercial fishery south of this area will open as scheduled Thursday, however.
Domoic acid, a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, can increase under certain ocean conditions and can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes in fish. Consuming marine life affected by domoic acid can, at minimum, cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness but may even result in persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and even death if the acid content is extremely high, officials say.
In waters where crab season has been delayed, commercial take or possession of Dungeness crab is prohibited. Officials will continue to test for domoic acid and could delay the season further if levels are deemed hazardous to public health.
Recreational fishing for Dungeness opened in most areas of the state on Nov. 3. However, the recreational fishery remains closed in state waters from Patrick's Point in Humboldt County and waters north.