Everything you need to know to forage for mussels
Blue mussels are a type of edible bivalve found in cold coastal waters. These orange-fleshed, blue-shelled mollusks are high in vitamin B and iron. Mussels and other bivalves feed by filtering water throughout their body. Bivalves, including mussels, can be deadly if consumed during red tide conditions.
You can forage for mussels along the California coast legally with a California fishing license. The legal daily limit for mussels is 10 pounds and you must carry a scale with you. Do not use tools to scrape mussels off rocks. This damages the mussel beds and is prohibited for mussel collecting. Instead, get a sturdy pair of gloves to twist and yank the mussel free from its byssal thread attachments (also known as beards) that secure it onto rocks.
Mussel gathering is prohibited in Humboldt County every year from May 1 to October 31 due to the warmer climate during this time, which facilitates the proper conditions for toxic algae blooms. Mussel quarantine may vary year to year. Always call the shellfish bio-toxin hotline before you plan on foraging.
Bio-toxin information line: (800) 553-4133 shellfish toxins/quarantine information
Editors note: This article previously stated an incorrect limit on mussel harvesting and has been corrected. We have updated information about mussel quarantine. Updated January 21, 2021