June 5, 2007

Dead Fish Foul Baltimore Harbor

An algae bloom has killed 7,000 fish in Baltimore Harbor by depleting the water of oxygen, leaving a stink hanging over the area.

Environmental officials blame the deaths on a bloom caused by nutrients in the Inner Harbor followed by a massive algae die-off as water temperatures rose. The dead algae removed oxygen from the water.

The bottom line is, there is no dissolved oxygen in the water column, Charles Poukish, environmental program manager for the Maryland Department of the Environment, told The Baltimore Sun.

Atlantic menhaden are the most common fish in the die-off. Other species include pumpkinseed sunfish, Atlantic croaker, American eel and white perch.

This is very odd. I work in this area and I've never seen these fish dead, said Michael Byrd, an employee with the Baltimore department of public works. "Even before I saw the fish, I said, 'What's that smell?' It's unbearable.''

Poukish said that while the city and state are trying to remove the dead fish as fast as possible the harbor is likely to remain unpleasant for at least two weeks.