"We are extremely concerned about this issue, especially in light ofthe fish kill which began Wednesday (Aug.6) near the mouth of the PocomokeRiver," said USGS Chief Biologist Dennis Fenn. "Our scientists have theexpertise to examine a broad range of fish health and disease distributionissues. Working with the State of Maryland, other federal agencies andarea university researchers, we will try to determine the causes of thefish lesions and the extent of the problem throughout the Chesapeake Bayarea."
Funds are available for studies by colleagues at the University ofMaryland-Eastern Shore and for the USGS Fish Health Laboratory at Leetown,W.Va. Scientists at these locations will collaborate with the State ofMaryland and other research partners on the fish lesion problem. "Leetownscientist, Dr. Vicki Blazer, will focus on the question of possiblesuppression of fish immune systems, which could make fish more vulnerableto disease," said Dr. Fenn. The research team at the University ofMaryland will also collect fish samples and broaden the scope of theirmonitoring efforts to include other Eastern Shore river systems.
With the start of the new fiscal year in October, the USGS will commitadditional funds to expand these studies and for landscape-scale studiescoordinated by biologists at the USGS Aquatic Ecology Laboratory inLeetown, to take a broader view of the bay. "We want to examine thecomplexities of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, looking at bay-wide fishhealth, lesion occurrence and potential links to land use, water qualityand stream flow patterns," said Dr. Fenn. "We will continue to work closelywith the State of Maryland and other partners to help devise a strategy forprotecting and preserving the Chesapeake Bay, one of our nation's mostvaluable natural resources."
Biologists participate in a bureauwide interdisciplinary ChesapeakeBay Ecosystem program, which began in May, 1996, and is closely coordinatedwith the Chesapeake Bay Program, a multi-agency effort for Bay restoration.The objectives of the ecosystem program are to better understand the effectsof natural and human-induced activities on the water quality andliving resources of the Bay and provide resource managers with informationthat is based on sound scientific investigations. Management implicationsof the scientific findings are provided so resource managers may evaluatethe effectiveness of different nutrient-reduction strategies on waterquality and the living resources in the Bay. The USGS has participated inthe Chesapeake Bay program since 1983.
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For more information on USGS work in the Chesapeake Bay, checkhttp://chesapeake.usgs.gov/chesbay/stream flow on the World Wide Web.
The above story is based on materials provided by U.S. Geological Survey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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