For the first time, Maryland biologists have found fish with lesions and possible signs of pfiesteria in a tributary of one of the state's coastal bays, according to a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.
DNR biologists conducting routine sampling in Ayer Creek, which flows into Newport Bay in Worcester County on the Eastern Shore, found lesions on 33 menhaden of 120 netted Monday. Water samples taken at the location were tested by two pfiesteria experts, said DNR spokesman John Surrick.
Test results from the North Carolina State University laboratory of JoAnn Burkholder, a co-discoverer of pfiesteria, showed it was not present or was present at very low levels, Surrick said.
He said a test by University of Maryland researcher David Oldach was positive for pfiesteria.
Oldach's test cannot tell the difference between benign pfiesteria and the toxic form.
"We have no indication of any toxic pfiestera in that area," Surrick said. "We don't have fish in distress, but it's interesting, and it warrants further investigation."
Although menhaden with lesions are not proof that pfiesteria is active in the area, they are considered a warning sign.