From: Gretchen Parker, Associated Press
Published May 10, 2005 12:00 AM

Maryland Researchers Predict Bad Year for Fish-Threatening Algae

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — State researchers predicted Monday that this summer could rank among the five worst in 20 years for algae blooms that threaten fish and other marine life in Chesapeake Bay.


Scientists and ecologists believe a 10-mile-wide algae bloom on the Potomac River could begin in early June and last for two and a half months. On a graphic distributed at a news conference Monday, the predicted bloom appears about halfway up the river, which empties into Chesapeake Bay.


"We're trying to predict the location, timing, duration and the extent of this bloom," said Peter Tango of Maryland Department of Natural Resources.


Algae blooms begin as the Potomac warms, and phytoplankton begins feasting on toxic nitrogen and phosphorus that wash away from sewage pipes, streets and farm fields. As it feeds, the algae blooms into a sprawling shield that suffocates the water and marine life.


Scientists say heavy rainfall since January is contributing to this year's poor water quality; rain washes more pollution and sediment into the bay and its creeks and rivers. A cool, dry or windy summer could help abate the blooms.


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It is believed to be the first time scientists have tried to predict how the algae blooms will behave.


Source: Associated Press


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