The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are asking the public to watch for and report any diseased, dying, or dead fish on the Monocacy River. Although no dead or dying fish have been reported so far this spring, the agencies are investigating springtime fish health and mortality.
“Public input is important in helping state agencies to respond quickly and gather meaningful data,” said DNR Fisheries Western Region Manager John Mullican.
Last May an angler reported a fish kill in the upper Monocacy involving mostly adult smallmouth bass and sunfish. It is uncertain if this mortality was related to other springtime fish kills in the Potomac River watershed since 2002.
A single cause for the fish kills has not been identified; however, investigations suggest that fish are subjected to multiple stressors including contaminants; damaged skin, gills and internal organs; parasites, spawning injuries and stress. DNR has also discovered a high prevalence of intersex in some species, most notably smallmouth bass. Environmental and contaminant factors may also lead to immune suppression, which may make fish more susceptible to bacterial infections. Possible causes of contamination include agricultural chemicals (pesticides and antibiotics), urban runoff, prescription medicines and personal care products.
If you find dead or dying fish in the Monocacy or Potomac River, please contact the Maryland Safety and Environmental Hotline (877) 224-7229 or the DNR-Fisheries Service at (301) 898-5443 with the time, date, location, fish species, and approximate number of affected fish. Photographs and a description of any unusual behavior or water conditions are also helpful.
This information is provided as a public service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. www.dnr.maryland.gov