MDE Investigates Large Fish Kill In Chesapeake Bay

MDE Investigates Large Fish Kill In Chesapeake Bay
MDE Investigates Large Fish Kill In Chesapeake Bay

From Maryland Department of the Environment

BALTIMORE, MD (January 5, 2011) - The Maryland Department of the Environment is investigating a fish kill in the Chesapeake Bay in which an estimated two million fish have died.

Natural causes appear to be the reason for the deaths of the fish. Cold water stress exacerbated by a large population of the affected species (juvenile spot fish) appears to be the cause of the kill.

Preliminary monitoring results show that water quality in the area appears to be acceptable. Additional water quality monitoring results are to be analyzed.


The affected fish are almost exclusively juvenile spot fish, three-to-six inches in length. MDE first received reports of dead fish last week. The fish kill appears to be centered on the bay from the Bay Bridge to Poplar Island.


Spot may have difficulty surviving in colder temperatures, and the species’ susceptibility to winter kills is well-documented. A rapid drop in water temperatures apparently caused cold water stress. Surface water temperatures in the bay have reached about 0.5 degrees Celsius according to Md. Department of Natural Resources Bay Program monitoring data, which is the coldest December recording in 25 years of monitoring.


Adult spot normally leave the bay during winter, but juveniles occasionally winter over in the area. Bottom water temperatures near their lower thermal limit (4 to 5 degrees Celsius) are not uncommon in the bay during winter. Juvenile spot, overwintering because of a mild early winter, may be susceptible to fish kills due to sudden decreases in water temperature.

A recent DNR survey showed a very strong population of spot in the Bay this year. An increased juvenile population and limited deep water habitat would likely compound the affects of cold water stress.


Large winter kills of spot have occurred at least twice before in Maryland. In late January 1976, records show that about 15 million spot died of winter stress in the bay. A smaller number died in January 1980. Maryland experiences still smaller fish kills caused by cold water stress every few years.

MDE’s investigation into the fish kill continues. The Agency continues to determine the magnitude of the kill and to obtain additional fish tissue samples. MDE works closely with DNR to investigate fish kills. In the coming days, both are to analyze DNR water quality monitoring data from recent weeks in the area of the fish kill.


Anyone who touches dead fish should take precautions such as washing hands. Residents can bury dead fish, but the tides, wildlife and natural decomposition should dispose of the fish.

MDE encourages anyone with information on fish kills to call 1-866-MDE-GOTO.

For more information on fish kills in Maryland, go to MDE’s website at http://www.mde.maryland.gov/programs/crossmedia/environmentalemergencies/fishkillsinmd/pages/programs/ multimediaprograms/environ_emergencies/fishkills_md/index.aspx

Recommended for You

Bass

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

G&F Online Staff - May 20, 2019

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Walleye

How to Fish Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

Mark Sak - May 23, 2019

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

Mustad's New Tungsten Weights

Long known as one of the world's premiere hook makers, Mustad's Reid McKinstry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that the company is now one of the leaders in making tungsten terminal tackle products for anglers.

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Bass

7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper - April 02, 2015

We all have our "swear by" bait for catfish. For me, it is chicken liver, live shad or my...

Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×