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Mystery surrounds fish kill in Baltimore Harbor

Out of sight.Out of mind.Few of those enjoying the nice weather at Fort McHenry today noticed the dead ...

Posted: May 2, 2018 3:34 PM
Updated: May 2, 2018 3:35 PM

Out of sight.

Out of mind.

Few of those enjoying the nice weather at Fort McHenry today noticed the dead fish washing up along the sea wall.

"I am concerned about it. Of course, when I'm up on the sidewalk, I couldn't even see it," said Susan Tjornehoj of Federal Hill, "Yes, I am concerned about it. I live right here."

Maryland's Department of the Environment now reports an estimated 30,000 herring, a species called the Atlantic Menhaden, have died and are washing up along the Patapsco River and Back River, yet researchers have not yet pinpointed a cause.

We're told they have collected tissue samples from distressed fish and are still awaiting results of those tests, while ruling out low oxygen levels in the water or algae build up that normally would point to pollution as the culprit.

At a time when the Chesapeake Bay has shown renewed signs of life, the fish kill has raised concerns here.

"I've been working on building the oyster scene, so we can replace the oysters to clean up this area," said Tjornehoj, "I've been really, really excited about that and so that's why I think, since they say it's about a disease that's very believable to me."

The fact that the fish kill has been limited to a single species points to a possible disease, but drastic fluctuations in water temperature can also kill juvenile fish like the ones washing ashore in the Baltimore Harbor.

Fortunately, at this point, it appears the dead fish have not washed into the Inner Harbor---one of the jewels of Baltimore's tourism industry.

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