At least 3,000 fish have recently died in Baltimore's harbor, likely as a result of an algae bloom that sent a foul odor into surrounding neighborhoods, a Maryland Department of the Environment spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The dead fish, primarily menhaden, were mostly congregated around the Domino Sugar plant in Locust Point, MDE spokeswoman Dawn Stoltzfus said.
Scientists responding to reports of brown water and a bad smell Monday night suspect a seasonal algae bloom prompted oxygen levels in the water to drop, according to Stoltzfus.
Dissolved oxygen levels in the water had dropped to 3 milligrams per liter at the surface and as low as 0.2 milligrams per liter below the surface, she said.
Even 3 milligrams per liter would create stressful conditions for fish, Stoltzfus added.
The harbor tends to get a large bloom of the algae, Prorocentrum minimum, this time of year, and higher water temperatures might have triggered a sudden die-off, Stoltzfus said.
The algae is not toxic, and Baltimore trash barges were working to remove the dead fish.
Stoltzfus said there could be additional blooms and fish kills in other areas, and anyone affected is urged to call 877-224-7229 to report them.