40,000 perch found dead along a 4-mile stretch of the Potomac River

February 21, 2007|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,Sun Reporter

More than 40,000 yellow perch have washed up along a four-mile stretch of the Potomac River in Southern Maryland.

The cause of the fish kill is not known, but the Maryland Department of the Environment is investigating whether the recent cold snap might have played a role, said Robert Ballinger, a spokesman.

The location, between Swan Point and Morgantown in Charles County, is near a power plant, but investigators have concluded that it was not responsible, Ballinger said. "We are looking to a wide range of possible causes, from the cold snap to wind gusts to fishermen," he said.

A resident of Swan Point spotted the fish kill Monday afternoon while walking along the river and called the state agency's hot line for reporting fish kills. A team of MDE investigators is examining the river and the fish, which include a few striped bass.

"It's thousands and thousands of fish. There are places where you just walk on the fish," said Ed Merrifield, the Potomac Riverkeeper, part of an environmental organization. "Right now, it's a mystery, and we'll have to figure it out."

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