The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Thursday temporarily banned the harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods like whelks or conches in Southampton and Southold towns’ waters after mussels tested positive for a biotoxin.
The DEC and Suffolk County Department of Health Services detected saxitoxin during routine monitoring. It is a marine biotoxin that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Shellfish can filter in the toxin, which collects in the tissue. Contaminated shellfish that are harvested and eaten can be dangerous to humans, causing nausea, headaches, vertigo, respiratory failure and even death, depending on exposure.
The ban covers about 1,400 acres of Shinnecock Bay west of Pine Neck Point and east of Post Lane Bridge in Southampton.
In Southold, harvesting carnivorous gastropods is banned in another 120 acres covering all of Deep Hole and Halls creeks, and a portion of Great Peconic Bay surrounding the mouths to those creeks. Shellfishing is normally banned this time of year in the area due to high bacteria levels, the DEC said.
The areas will be reopened after laboratory tests show the area is safe. For updates on the closure, call 631-444-0480.
CORRECTION: The number of acres was incorrect in a previous version of this story.