Sauteing freshly collected California Mussels (Mytilus californianus) with butter, scallions and garlic over a camp stove on the Oregon Coast. Be sure to avoid collecting mussels found on rocks near sandy beaches as wave action will ensure your delicacy is diminished by gritty sand when served. To avoid grit, find mussels which live on rocks that drop to deep water where sand stirred by powerful waves can’t reach the mussel bed. As always keep one eye on the sea and work facing the ocean. Even on a perfectly calm day you can be surprised by a wave which is larger than you would expect … its happened to me! You’ll also need an Oregon recreational shellfish permit, be respectful of limits, be careful to avoid marine reserves and tread lightly on the mussel beds so as not to unnecessarily damage and injure the diversity of intertidal creatures living there. Last but not least, before harvesting wild mussels be CERTAIN to check the ODFW hotline (1-800-448-2474) to ensure there isn’t a shellfish closure due to excessive levels of domoic acid, also popularly known as a ‘red tide’. Domoic acid can cause a condition known as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, which can result in severe injury or death within one to two hours of ingesting contaminated shellfish. If you feel numbness or tingling in your lips, tongue or mouth seek medical treatment immediately, there is an effective anti-toxin if you can get it in time. Mussels are one of the great natural delicacies of our coast, and collecting and preparing them, reminds me of who I am, and grounds my connection with this beautiful place we call home. One last note, along with the many virtues of wild harvest comes responsibility and respect for these living treasures, which without care can be diminished or lost in the blink of an eye. As they say, “Limit your kill, don’t kill your limit”.