Warm weather causes toxic plankton to bloom all over the coast of British Columbia whether a month has an "R" in it or not. If you are not absolutely sure that the shellfish you are about to eat is safe then don’t eat it. Bivalve molluscs like oysters, clams and mussels are all susceptible to red tide. Butter clams are the very worst, retaining toxins for long periods of time. Cooking does not alter the toxicity of these filter feeders in any way.

If you are going to an area where shellfish harvesting might be possible then make it a habit to call the federal government’s online Red Tide advisory. As with so many  government services this one too is needlessly confusing. Where appropriate, I have included Fisheries Management Area numbers with each trip description. Armed with that information, navigating the Fisheries and Oceans Canada's online list of Bivalve Shellfish Contamination Closures is much simpler. On the same site there's a slow-loading map detailing closures as well.

The End

tick

Ticks are a carrier of a multitude of deadly diseases including Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever and Lyme's Disease.

Illustration by Manami Kimura

Coastal British Columbia has no poisonous snakes, deadly spiders or scorpions and plants like poison ivy or poison oak are rare. We do however have ticks. These blood-sucking arachnids are a carrier of a multitude of deadly diseases including Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever and Lyme's Disease.

At the end of each day pause for a moment to check your body, particularly the hairy bits, for any unusual protrusions. Get a buddy to survey your back. Ticks may vary from pin head size to the size of a huckleberry when engorged with blood.

Spring and early summer see the greatest numbers of ticks but their presence is certainly not limited to this time of year.

The best way to remove a tick is with a pair of inexpensive tick pliers. Outdoor stores carry them. Tweezers will work as well. Do not squeeze the body of the tick, you will only inject more deadly microbes into the wound. Cradle the tick lightly at the neck, below the body and pry up gently, levering against your skin. Doing so may take some time but the tick finds this mild pressure unpleasant and will eventually unclench its mouth parts. Save the tick in a container for medical analysis upon returning to civilization.

Not all ticks carry contagion but the severity of associated diseases make precaution worthwhile. The same kind of preventative measures that work against mosquitos will also limit your exposure to tick bites. Insect repellent and long pants and sleeves will all help keep the critters away.

The End

Notable Quotes

Grover's 340-page book is a wealth of information for the weekend warrior and outdoor enthusiast alike....

-- Scott Birke; Sea to Sky VOICE