New Algae Blooms Suffocating Chesapeake Crabs

"John Neukam has been catching crabs in pots near the Middle River for decades. But this year, the crabs have been dying in the water, suffocated by a bright green algae bloom that is choking off oxygen and worrying watermen and recreational boaters.

...

People who live in subdivisions off the coves and creeks in the Middle River area have been scared to eat the fish they catch, worried about letting their children and dogs swim in the water, and in some cases unable to get their boats out from their docks, which have been socked in by the thick, carpet-like algae.

The state Department of Natural Resources says the algae is not toxic, but it is alarming. When the algae dies, the decomposition sucks the oxygen out of the water, killing crabs and fish. The algae also blocks sunlight from the beneficial bay grasses, which provide a refuge for shellfish and crabs.

The area that has seen the algae explosion is home to striped bass, white and yellow perch, catfish, Atlantic needlefish, chain pickerel and other species."

Stephen Kiehl reports for the Baltimore Sun August 9, 2008.

 

Saturday, August 9, 2008