Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Dinophysis — the new HAB on the block

Lipid soluble shellfish toxins comprise an extensive suite of compounds associated with the human syndromes known as diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP). Due to recent bloom events and subsequent human poisonings in Washington State (USA) due to DSP, there is a critical and urgent need for state public health officials to be able to monitor and accurately quantify harmful algal bloom (HAB) species associated with DSP. There is now unambiguous evidence that lipophilic toxins associated with DSP are present in shellfish, including oysters and mussels from Puget Sound and razor clams from the Washington coast.

Project Background


The objectives of the proposed study are to: 1) identify and spatio-temporally characterize the distribution of phytoplankton species that produce DSP toxins accumulating in Washington State shellfish, 2) establish and validate a tiered early warning system for these toxic events, and rapid toxin screening in seawater and shellfish, 3) inform and educate stakeholders about lipophilic toxin risk and management.


We will partner with Washington State Department of Health, the SoundToxins program and the Olympic Region Harmful Algal Blooms (ORHAB) partnership to study the seasonal variability of lipophilic toxins and toxin-producing species in Washington State waters where shellfish have recently been contaminated with these toxins.

Recent Publications

Trainer, V.L., Moore, L., Bill, B.D., Adams, N.G., Harrington, N., Borchert, J., daSilva, D.A.M., Eberhart, B.T.L. 2013. Diarrhetic shellfish toxins and other polyether toxins of human health concern in Washington State. Marine Drugs.