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Warmer waters linked to higher levels of shellfish toxin, that can cause memory loss and death

As the Earth faces climate change, the shellfish are becoming potentially dangerous. Warmer ocean waters are linked to increased levels of domoic acid, a toxin in shellfish and other marine animals that can make us sick, according to a new study.

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Researchers analysed more than two decades’ worth of data, from 1991 to 2015, comparing ocean water conditions off the Oregon coast with the levels of domoic acid in Oregon’s razor clams.

The results showed that in the years when the climate was warmer — including years with higher ocean temperatures and changes in ocean currents — the levels of domoic acid in the razor clams were higher, the researchers said in a statement cited by Live Science.

Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by marine algae. It accumulates in animals that consume that algae.

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People who ingest it can develop a neurological disorder called domoic acid poisoning (DAP), also called „amnesic shellfish poisoning”.

Among the symptoms are stomach pains, diarrhea, seizures, numbing of the face, memory loss. In rare cases domoic acid can cause death.

Claire Reynolds