From: Associated Press
Published June 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Red Tide Hits Martha's Vineyard Shellfish

BOSTON — Officials closed two areas off Martha's Vineyard to shellfishing on Monday as the largest red tide outbreak in decades continued to spread through New England waters.


The toxic algae bloom already has forced officials to shut down shellfish beds from Maine to Cape Cod so that people do not eat infected clams, mussels and oysters.


The closures off Edgartown meant the outbreak, possibly caused by an unusually cold and wet winter and spring, was continuing south, scientists said.


"It's an unprecedented closure," said Shelley Dawicki, spokeswoman at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "We don't know how far it's going to spread."


Scientists say the algae contaminate only shellfish, making them unsafe for animals and humans to eat. Swimmers, fish and popular sea foods such as lobster or shrimp are unaffected.


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The outbreak is the worst to hit Massachusetts since 1972, when the state enacted a blanket closure of all shellfish beds.


Source: Associated Press


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