Fish die-off in Maryland- 07/07/2007

  • December 6, 2013 at 9:22 pm #1686

    Dead fish creating big stink
    By LISA BEISEL Staff Writer
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    It seems that things seldom get better for Marley Creek.
    The Glen Burnie waterway has been closed to human contact for decades and was the site of a sewage spill in May. On June 29, the creek was clogged with 1,000 dead fish that died when the death of a large amount of algae sucked the oxygen out of the water.

    Robert Ballinger, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said the fish kill occurred the same day as larger one in the Annapolis. Some 15,000 fish died in that incident.

    In both cases, the sudden algae death depleted the dissolved oxygen in the water and suffocated the fish, he said.

    Though not a common occurrence, fish kills are believed to be a natural summer event.

    According to residents along Marley Creek, piles of dead fish lumped between Tomcat Lane and the Good Shepherd Church alerted them to the kill on Tuesday.

    Though some suspected a spill from the Bell Avenue sewage pumping station, MDE tests of the water, the algae and the fish showed no signs of any unusual contamination.

    “That’s one of the things we would look for,” Mr. Ballinger said.

    The creek, however, has been closed for decades because of consistently high bacteria levels.

    Oxygen readings were at .81 parts per million, while normal levels are between 1 and 3 parts per million. That level will even itself out naturally. Rain will cause the water to get stirred up and put oxygen back, Mr. Ballinger said.

    There’s no estimate on how long it will take for the dead fish disappear, however. Some will be scooped up by seagulls; some will sink back to the bottom of the creek and decompose there.

    There’s also no telling how long the fish smell will last.

    Neighbors said it was at its worst on Wednesday, by Thursday it had gotten mildly better. The pungent aroma still permeated the nearby neighborhood.

    “It depends on the wind current …” Mr. Ballinger said. “Hopefully, the smell will dissipate in the near future.”

    Because of the smell, George Graybeal thought he had left garbage on the porch somewhere. He couldn’t find anything, and went to bed. But the smell was worse Wednesday morning.

    From the water’s edge, he could see fish floating on top of the water

    400 or 500 yards away on the other side of the creek.

    Rob Grafton, another waterfront resident, was confused by what he found.

    “I’ve lived here all my life, and in 25 years I’ve never seen anything like this… the creek was covered (with fish),” he said.

    Mr. Graybeal, who is a recreational fisherman, could identify several species of fish, including rockfish, catfish and perch, that had washed ashore.

    David Smith, who lives on the waterfront on Bell Avenue, is frustrated that he’s paying property taxes for a waterfront property and can’t have any direct contact with the water.

    State and county officials are unsure of what to do about the bacterial problems and suggest studies are needed to look at the problem. But for Mr. Graybeal, it’s not action enough.

    “It’d be like the police going to a bank and putting a notice up saying this bank has been robbed. They’re not doing anything,” Mr. Graybeal said.

    Published 07/07/07, Copyright © 2007 Maryland Gazette,
    Glen Burnie, Md.’

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