DNR to keep watch of site of '97 fish kills Few signs of sick fish found in 3rd recent check

September 05, 1998|By Heather Dewar | Heather Dewar,SUN STAFF

New tests have found few signs of sick fish along a stretch of the Chicamacomico River where the toxic microbe Pfiesteria piscicida caused a fish kill last year, but Maryland Natural Resources Police will keep a close eye on the waterway over the holiday weekend.

Biologists from the Department of Natural Resources' Pfiesteria rapid-response team caught 771 menhaden along a narrow stretch of the river yesterday and found 23 of them -- fewer than 3 percent -- had fresh lesions like those caused by Pfiesteria, said agency spokesman John Surrick. Earlier sampling found much higher rates of sick fish: Wednesday, five of eight menhaden caught there had lesions, and Thursday, 41 of 163 menhaden had the bloody sores.

The biologists' tests will be put on hold over the Labor Day holiday, but police will check the area twice daily for signs of a fish kill, fish in distress or anything else unusual, Surrick said. If conditions remain unchanged, testing will resume Tuesday.

The rarely visited site, at a ruined drawbridge about four miles southwest of Vienna on the Lower Eastern Shore, was the scene of the last and smallest Pfiesteria-related fish kill last year. No Pfiesteria outbreaks have been confirmed this year, although preliminary testing found low levels of Pfiesteria-like organisms in water from Shiles Creek on the Wicomico River early last month.

Pub Date: 9/05/98

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