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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Came back from Baltimore and Annapolis yesterday and couldn't believe how dirty the water was!! Water temp was 80-83 degrees in the upper bay, I guess it's just plankton because the water was a brownish green, the back waters have been like that the last couple of weeks, it too is pretty warm and about the same color, I wonder if this has anything to do the poor fishing--- It's pretty dirty along the beach, anybody know if it is alage or what????
 

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Water has been way too warm in the back bay behind Wildwood. In the upper 70's Did hit a time when it was in the 80's. Water has not been very clear, but I think it is more temperature that is causing the poor back bay fishing.
 

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You might be right Ray, it seems that with the high water temp the fishing took a sh!t. In the cooler water offshore--ie--Old Grounds, etc, the fishing has been great. The back and Del. Bay are both loaded with bait, but the flounder bite stinks.
 

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GREEN SLIME IS CHOKING LIFE OUT OF STATE'S BAYS

Date: 040906
From: http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/

RUNOFF OF NUTRIENTS FUELS GROWTH OF ALGAE

By Alexander Lane, Star-Ledger Staff, September 05, 2004

A wet-suit-clad researcher leapt off a motorboat into Little Egg
Harbor one morning last month and set about scouring the bottom for
elegant blades of sea grass.

He emerged with handfuls of slimy green algae.

"The stuff is growing like wildfire," said Rutgers professor Michael
Kennish, supervising the research from onboard the boat. "In a
balanced system it doesn't grow like that."

Something is amiss off the Jersey coast.

Eutrophication, a pollution problem that causes runaway algae growth
and throws entire ecosystems out of whack, is tightening its grip on
New Jersey's long, shallow coastal bays, scientists say.

Evidence has been piling up for years. Some 7,500 acres of beneficial
underwater plants such as eel grass disappeared from Barnegat Bay
between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s, choked off by algae,
according to one study. Another study showed the hard clam population
in Little Egg Harbor dropping by 67 percent between 1986 and 2001.

Recently, with pollution ending up in the bay in ever-increasing
quantities, scientists have intensified efforts to understand the
problem.

In April, at a two-day workshop on conditions in Barnegat Bay and
Little Egg Harbor, researchers found the system "highly eutrophic,"
the worst rating on a scale developed by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration.

At least two studies aimed at pinpointing eutrophication's effects are
under way: Kennish's federally funded sea-grass inventory, and
research on brown tides by visiting Rutgers professor Sybil
Seitzinger.

Similar concern is mounting around the world. Among the many bodies of
water looking more and more like neglected fish tanks are San
Francisco Bay, the Chesapeake Bay and the Black Sea. The Gulf of
Mexico has gotten so bad there's a vast dead zone every year, which
left sharks scrambling for food near the Texas coast this summer,
according to Nancy Rabalais, a professor at the Louisiana Universities
Marine Consortium. Three bathers were bitten.

In New Jersey, as elsewhere, it's getting worse.

"It's continuing to escalate, and I don't see it stopping," said Kent
Mountford, a longtime Environmental Protection Agency scientist who
wrote a book on Barnegat Bay. "People are not connected to the water
around them."

DAMAGED SYSTEM

Barnegat Bay, Little Egg Harbor and Manahawkin Bay form one long
estuary, the term for an area where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

It stretches 44 miles down the Ocean County coast, washing onto broad
beaches and expansive marshes. Narrow spits of sand, Long Beach Island
and a similar barrier island just to the north of it, shelter the
estuary from the Atlantic, save for three inlets.

The estuary is one to four miles wide and just a few feet deep in
places. But such bodies of water are among the most productive
environments on earth, and this one is no exception.

More than 100 species of young fish flit among the sea grasses,
finding shelter and food as they grow large enough to brave the open
ocean. More than 200 other animal species dwell on the bottom, along
with 100 plant species.

People are also drawn here, to boat, fish and swim. Tourists spend
close to $2 billion a year in Ocean County, supporting some 50,000
jobs, many in and around the estuary.

But the estuary is not what it was.

"At one time these systems were teeming with oysters, scallops and
hard clams," Kennish said, as he cruised across Little Egg Harbor last
week. "The oysters are gone, the scallops are basically gone, and the
hard clams are declining dramatically."

The major problem is eutrophication - an overload of nutrients,
notably nitrogen, that are crucial in small quantities and deadly in
large ones, Kennish said. Nitrogen washes into the estuary off
fertilized lawns and farms, pours out of sewage discharge pipes and
falls in rain that is laced with power-plant emissions.

Then it fuels runaway growth of certain plants.

Massive algae blooms cloud the water, and sometimes coat the surface
with a thick, smelly slime. They blot out the sun, stressing sea grass
beds and the creatures that depend on them. Other large algae grows on
the bottom, choking the sea grass from below. When the algae dies, it
sucks oxygen out of the water.

The vigorous water movement that flushes open water bodies, like
Delaware and Raritan bays, is absent from this sheltered, shallow
water.

"It's like a bathtub," said Suzanne Bricker, a eutrophication expert
with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "You put
nutrients in and because it doesn't flush well you have ample time for
these different kinds of problems to develop."

Some scientists also suspect eutrophication is the culprit behind
brown tides, a type of phytoplankton bloom that is harmful to sea life
and has become commonplace in the estuary in the past 20 years.

Eutrophication may also have caused the rapid rise of the sea nettle,
a stinging jellyfish that lives off phytoplankton and has appeared in
increasingly large numbers in Barnegat Bay in recent years.

Barnegat Bay has the highest production rate of phytoplankton of 11
similar coastal lagoons around the world. At times as many as 2
million cells of phytoplankton have been found in one milliliter -
which is just a few drops - of bay water.

THE POPULATION FACTOR

What to do about the problem is far from clear.

The state Department of Environmental Protection passed rules in
February requiring better management of storm-water runoff by towns
and developers. Beyond that, the problem gets trickier, due to a
worldwide dependence on nitrogen.

Reactive nitrogen, first produced for gunpowder in the early 1900s,
turned out to be a fertilizer so remarkable that people have come to
rely on it. Half the quantity ever produced came in the past 15 years,
according to an article last year in the journal BioScience.

As the environment struggles to find a place for it, it is causing not
just coastal eutrophication, but also global warming, ground-level
ozone and smog.

In the Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor Estuary, fertilized lawns are as
much a problem as agriculture. Half the nitrogen in the estuary washes
in from streams and rivers, 39 percent falls down in rain from the
atmosphere - much of it from power plants in the Midwest - and 11
percent comes from groundwater, Kennish said.

Some scientists have suggested strategies for minimizing
eutrophication, such as bringing back clams and other water-cleaning
filter feeders through cultivation, preserving more open space and
restoring stream banks and wetlands. But as long as the population
keeps growing, the bay will likely struggle, experts said.

The story is the same around the world. More than half the U.S. and
world population resides within 62 miles of the coast, and that number
is growing steadily, according to the Institute of Marine Sciences at
the University of North Carolina.

"The reason we have such a problem with eutrophication in so many of
our coastal waters is we have so many people," Seitzinger said.

* * *

Alexander Lane covers the environment. He can be reached at
[email protected]ger.com or (973) 392-1790.

Copyright 2004 The Star-Ledger.
 

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Very interesting post. I believe that is the problem. The last few years the area I fish has had alot of slime which seem to cover the bottom. There is little life visable like there use to be. Only life seems to be bait fish and some crabs but not like they use to be. Old timers say the area I fish use to be a great place to catch weakies. I Have been fishing the area hard for atleast 4 year with flys and small plugs and have not gotten one. I think we are putting too much strain on our back bays. They use to look clean and inviting to swim in. Now you don't dare fall in. Only time they look good is during the winter months.
 
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