The Bay Scallop season in Gulf County has been postponed for at least 2 weeks because of an naturally occurring algae bloom in the St. Joe Bay.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that a Pseudo-nitzschia bloom has been found in the St. Joe Bay, and while the algae does not harm scallops directly and shouldn’t cause scallop population declines, the opening of scallop season will be postponed as a precautionary measure.
Pseudo-nitzschia is a naturally occurring microscopic alga that in some cases can produce domoic acid, which can negatively impact marine mammals and seabirds and can cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning in humans if contaminated shellfish are consumed.
Domoic acid has been confirmed in seawater and scallop samples from St. Joseph Bay.
Domoic acid does not impact finfish, but they should be carefully cleaned prior to being eaten.
This postponement includes all state waters from the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County through the westernmost point of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County.
The scallop season is expected to be closed a minimum of two weeks.
State agencies will continue sampling and testing scallops and other shellfish in the bay to determine when they are safe for consumption and will continue to work with the local community to determine options on the remainder of the season.