Monday, March 25, 2013

Yellow Perch Mystery Continues

Yours truly with an Allen's Fresh Yellow Perch (2002)
Scientists seek clues to yellow perch problems
While yellow perch thrive in other parts of the Chesapeake Bay, the small, gold-green fish have declined in the Magothy, Severn and South rivers in Anne Arundel County.

When they swim up the rivers in late winter to spawn, the effort fails year after year. Researchers have determined the females’ eggs are flawed — the yolks aren’t formed correctly and the egg membranes are too thin.

Could it be toxic chemicals in the water? Pesticides? Birth control pills? Antibacterial ingredients from soap and hand sanitizer?

“We think it's related to urbanization,” said Fred Pinkney, an environmental contaminants biologist based in Annapolis with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The theory is that more contaminants are washing off into the water from urban sprawl - homes and roads and parking lots that are sprouting around rivers.

Just what contaminants are harming the fish eggs remains unknown.
It's sad.  Yellow perch are the first fish in our region to become active in spring, and often provide the first chance for anglers with cabin fever to get out and fish. They spawn in small and often accessible streams in great numbers, and have often provided kids first opportunities to catch fish.  The fact that they have been all but eliminated from many streams in urban and their surrounding areas has deprived a lot of people from enjoying them.  And they are the best eating fresh water fish in Maryland, hands down.

So what happens when it turns out to be birth control pills; ban them in urban areas?

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