An unusual bloom of toxic algae has closed a third of Maine’s coastline to clam and mussel harvesting and triggered a widespread shellfish recall.

Last week, the Department of Marine Resources issued a recall of mussels, clams and quahogs caught in Down East Maine after samples tested positive for domoic acid, a biotoxin that can cause illness, memory loss, brain damage and possibly death in humans.

At the same time, the state banned harvesting for mussels, clams, oysters and carnivorous snails on parts of a wide swath of coastline from Deer Isle to the Canadian border.

This is the first time an algae bloom producing toxic domoic acid has occurred in Maine, although low levels of the toxin have been found in shellfish for decades. Some recent mussels and clams showed domoic acid levels of up to 100 parts per million, five times the level considered safe for human consumption.

“A closure for this toxin in eastern Maine is unprecedented, that is not anything anyone has ever seen,” said Dar

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