Dead fish continued to surface Tuesday in Baltimore-area waters, though the conditions that scientists believe have been causing the weeklong die-off may be moderating slightly.
State investigators estimated there were 10,000 fish floating in Stoney Creek in northern
Stoney Creek is just a few miles from Marley Creek, where authorities reported last week finding 100,000 dead fish amid a massive "mahogany tide," or algae bloom that's suffocating fish throughout this portion of the Chesapeake Bay.
Fed by nitrogen and phosphorus in sewage, fertilizer and pet waste running into the water, tiny aquatic plants "bloom" in mass quantities, turning the water brown, then die back, producing a stench and consuming the oxygen that fish need to breathe.
Investigators also checked out reports of dead fish and crabs coming out of the water in upper Bear Creek off Baltimore's harbor near
In the harbor, where state investigators estimated about 1,000 dead fish were floating around the
A state water monitoring station in Masonville Cove on the southern edge of the harbor indicates that conditions there have improved slightly since last week, when dissolved oxygen levels a meter below the surface stayed near zero practically non-stop for a couple days. Over the weekend, levels climbed in the daytime, as sunlight likely prompted the algae to produce oxygen, but then dropped at night when the microscopic plants would go dormant. Those night-time plunges still stress and possibly kill some fish.
Investigators intend to check out Wednesday another unconfirmed small fish kill reported on Kent Island on the Eastern Shore, Kappalman said.
"How's that mahogany tide?" O'Malley asked Laurie Schwartz, executive director of the partnership. The nonprofit, which represents harborfront businesses, environmental groups and city agencies, is campaigning to make the harbor fishable and swimmable by 2020.
"A lot of dead fish, pretty bad smell, a teachable moment, right?" Schwartz replied.
As for the fish-killing algae bloom, there's some hope for relief from storms that are forecast to hit the Baltimore area Wednesday and Thursday, lowering temperatures from the 90s back into the 70s. Wind, rain and cooler temperatures all may help restore oxygen to the water, at least for now.