The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will reopen Wednesday some 4,000 acres of shellfish lands in the towns of Southampton, Riverhead and Southold that were previously closed to the harvest of whelks, conchs and noon snails due to contamination by marine biotoxins.

These areas were closed in May after the DEC's Bureau of Marine Resources detected saxitoxin in mussel samples collected from monitoring sites within each affected area.

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According to the DEC, saxitoxin is "a naturally occurring marine biotoxin" that "can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning."

The agency said the biotoxin closures for carnivorous gastropods are rescinded in all shellfish lands in western Shinnecock Bay, in the Town of Southampton, and the uncertified lands of Terry and Meetinghouse Creeks in the Town of Riverhead and James Creek, in the Town of Southold.

The reopening will begin at sunrise Wednesday.

Residents seeking additional information are advised to call 631-444-0480.