A series of localized fish kills in the midsection of the Bay has Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) leaders scratching their heads.I'll bet it was a few nets.
MDE says hundreds of Atlantic menhaden between eight and 11 inches have washed up since early last week.
MDE is investigating individual fish kills at Quiet Waters Park on the South River, the Severn River above Round Bay, Terrapin Park near the mouth of the Chester River on Kent Island, and the Patapsco River from the Key Bridge to Fort McHenry.
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According to MDE spokesman Jay Apperson, water quality results in those areas have been acceptable so far, and no other aquatic species seem to be affected. The dead fish count in each location has ranged anywhere from 30 to several hundred menhaden.
MDE has not yet determined a cause. The two likely explanations may be disease, or fishery-related (for example, when fish are captured and released from netting, which can cause stress or physical problems.)
Apperson tells Bay Bulletin, “Most of the fish examined have been dead a few days and show signs of contusions and scale loss.”
MDE hopes to find freshly dead or still-struggling fish to examine them and nail down a cause. Apperson does note that disease events usually happen in a more widespread area on a sustained schedule than this case. For perspective, menhaden travel in schools that can reach more than a million fish, so a few hundred is a small percentage. But any fish kill is cause for concern.