DIY Personal Domoic Acid Testing of Crabs?

Dungeness crabs from San Francisco (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Dungeness crabs from the San Francisco Bay Area (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is there any kind of domoic acid test kit available that a consumer can use to test his/her own crabs? I would think there would be a lot of interest in this. I love to catch and eat crabs but also hate risking getting sick! (Bob W.)

Answer: If you do a google search you will find some kits that state they will detect domoic acid toxins in shellfish, marine algae and water samples. However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) cannot comment on the suitability of these products to address your concerns. You can minimize your risk though by following California Department of Public Health (CDPH) advisories. In their recent news release, CDPH advised that meat from Dungeness crabs caught in areas where the advisory has been lifted is safe to consume. However, consumers are advised to not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs.

Crab viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crabs should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (i.e. cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips.

To check for current health warnings on the consumption of crabs and other shellfish, I suggest you call CDPH’s shellfish hotline at (800) 553-4133 or visit CDPH’s Domoic Acid health information Web page. This information is always up to date and available via a recorded message 24/7.


If I see a mountain lion, who do I call?
Question: What do I do when I see a mountain lion come on my property? Who do I call? (Darren M.)

Answer: If you see a mountain lion come onto your property, you don’t need to call anyone unless the animal is acting aggressively toward you or your family, or if it appears to be sick or diseased. If you feel it is an immediate threat to you, call 911. But mountain lions are usually just looking for deer or other prey animals.

If you do know you have a mountain lion around your home, I suggest you keep small children, pets and other animals in a protective area, especially from early evening through mornings when mountain lions are most active. If the animal is just passing through, as they typically do, you might just watch it and enjoy the unique opportunity you’re being given to actually see one. Most people will never have the chance to see one in their lifetimes.

For more information, please check out our living with mountain lions webpage.


Do blue catfish reproduce in California?
Question: Do blue catfish reproduce in California lakes? If not, why? (Mike M., Anaheim)

Answer: Blue catfish can reproduce if they are mature (which can take 4-7 years) and the right temperatures and other environmental conditions exist. In the wild, they typically prefer a cave habitat where they can construct a nest (eg: under rock ledges, logs, or undercut banks) and it is the male that guards and protects the eggs and young fry. Catfish farmers often place into their ponds containers like old milk cans to help the spawning catfish establish nests so that the eggs are easily retrieved and further nurtured in the hatchery. In California, spawning season is late spring/early summer, as temperatures are warming.


Lifetime license still valid if I move out of state?
Question: I was looking into the Lifetime Hunting/Fishing license. This may be a stupid question but if I leave the state of California and change my residency, do I forfeit the whole lifetime license? I assume I must live in California in order to qualify. (Bill)

Answer: No, you won’t forfeit it. Under the provisions of a Lifetime Hunting or Fishing License, your license is valid for hunting/fishing when you return to visit even if you move out of state. You would be required to buy non-resident tags for big game species but the license is still valid. For more on the benefits and privileges of hunting and fishing lifetime licenses, please visit the department website.


Can you harvest abalone for a handicapped individual?
Question: Just curious if there are any provisions in the abalone regulations to allow someone to assist a handicapped person. For example, if the person is unable to dive for abalone, can someone else harvest the catch for them? (Todd J., Milbrae)

Answer: No, an individual may only take or possess one daily limit of abalone (which is three). A diver could take three abalone one day, record and tag them with their abalone report punch card and tags, and then give them to a disabled person who is not able to dive. Then the following day, the diver may go out to get three more abalone for themselves, and again, report them on the punch card and tag them in accordance with the regulations.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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