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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Date: February 11, 2004
Reply: Acting South Atlantic Fisheries Coordinator, FWS,
Raleigh, NC
Subject: Copepod Parasite Infesting Striped Bass
To: North Carolina Diadromous Fisheries Cooperative; Other
Interested Parties


During today's 2004 Annual Fisheries Work Planning meeting between the
Service and the NC Divisions of Inland and Marine Fisheries, the impact of
a copepod parasite on striped bass in Virginia and Tennessee reservoirs was
discussed, and I was asked to make some contacts and provide additional
information to the group, since none of us knew anything, or knew only very
little, about the subject.

I contacted Joe Hightower this afternoon, who provided me with information
given to him by Dan Wilson of Virginia Department of Game and Inland
Fisheries. I subsequently contacted Dan directly to obtain permission from
him to forward the attached message and report to everyone. Dan gave his
permission, in fact, he asked that I distribute the information as widely
as possible throughout the fisheries community to spread the word rapidly.
He advised that the Southern Division AFS Striped Bass Committee, of which
he is Chair, is being reconstituted to deal with this issue, and he is
working with some local experts in Virginia to try and get a study
underway.

In a nutshell, this parasite, for which according to Dan the identity is
still somewhat uncertain despite what it says in the attached materials,
arrived in Virginia reservoirs last year, perhaps from introduction via
contaminated boats from Tennessee reservoirs, and is manifesting itself in
ways not consistent with the literature descriptions (e.g., Dan advised the
literature says the parasite is present in low numbers, doesn't affect
striped bass, and doesn't cause mortality, while observations in VA and TN
indicate the contrary, i.e., high levels of infestation, definitely on
large striped bass, and possible associated mortality). Dan stressed that
the observed large striped bass mortality events in Norris Reservoir in
Tennessee and Smith Mountain Reservoir in VA were associated with other
factors (low water quality in Norris due to high flows last year, and loss
of the threadfin shad forage base in Smith Mt.) that could have been
primary factors, allowing the parasite to reach epidemic proportions and
cause secondary mortality. The most disturbing aspect of all this is that
the parasite has spread rapidly and widely in Tennessee and according to
Dan, is now documented from Kerr Reservoir and Norman Reservoir in NC (he
will be forwarding me an e-mail documenting the occurrence in Norman).

The obvious potential is there for this parasite to move downstream into
Gaston and Roanoke Rapids, and on in to the lower Roanoke River, affecting
striped bass populations there, with consequent impacts to highly
significant commercial and recreational fisheries. Depending on which
species it actually turns out to be, it may be tolerant of estuarine/marine
waters and could cause problems in the Atlantic migratory stock if it
infests Roanoke fish that migrate to the ocean.

We should all definitely be on the look out for this parasite this spring
as we sample striped bass in the reservoirs and downstream during the
Roanoke River striped bass spawning stock biomass survey. NC federal and
state hatchery personnel, as we discussed during the meeting today, should
definitely not be transporting fish or water from affected areas of TN or
VA into unaffected areas in NC, SC or other southeastern states.
Beyond reporting any occurrences we may find to each other, and possibly to
the USGS Florida and Caribbean Science Center in Gainesville that tracks
the course of exotic infestations, I am not sure how to proceed. It sounds
as though the genie is out of the bottle, but it may be advisable to
undertake some sort of large-scale publicity blitz to make striped bass
anglers aware of this problem and encourage them to undertake thorough
cleaning of their boats and gear when departing from reservoirs with
documented parasite infestations, especially before they launch their boats
into reservoirs not yet affected.

Anybody else have any other ideas, please feel free to share them with the
entire group. I don't want to sound like a Chicken Little, but given what
has already occurred in Norris and Smith Mt., I would almost rather err on
the side of caution and make much ado about something that turns out to be
nothing, than to sit by and do nothing and then have the sky fall in on the
fisheries management community because we knew about the potential and
didn't attempt to do anything to slow the spread or prevent additional
infestations.

At the very least, we might all want to get together and discuss what
additional steps are appropriate beyond just watching for this parasite and
informing everyone about its presence.

Please feel free to share this message with colleagues you believe need to
have this information, especially all the SC fisheries folks, since if the
beastie is already in Lake Norman, it is headed their way.

[ 02-13-2004, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: THECHUMSTAIN ]
 

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I don't know if it's the same one,but i seen them on stripers i caught in the river.I didn't really see them on the bigger fsh (33in or bigger) but more so on the slots!!!
 

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dp

[ 02-13-2004, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: fshlot ]
 

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Originally posted by fshlot:
I don't know if it's the same one,but i seen them on stripers i caught in the river.I didn't really see them on the bigger fsh (33in or bigger) but more so on the slots!!!
Really?

I found exactly the oppisite. The bigger the fish...the more I found. Weird! :confused:
 

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It would be nice to see a photo of this thingie. Fish have all sorts of parasites and lice ranging from small to rather large, worms to copepods.

The original message states that they are not even sure what this one is, so I somehow doubt that it is one of the ones we have been seeing for years up here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Striped bass parasitic copepods

The type of parasitic copepod infestations depicted in the pictures below have been observed in Tim?s Ford, Watts Bar, Old Hickory, and has now become prevalent in Norris. The pictures below are from fish weighed in during a December 2003 tournament on Norris out of the Hickory Star Boat Dock. 100% of the 27 fish observed had parasitic copepods present.
 

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I would not eat that fish or any others like it.

Not worth the possible consequences.
 

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Chum,my brother and I caught a whole lot of large stripers in the upper bay this past fall and none of them had any marks or noticable parasites on them. Has anyone else caught fish in the bay with these parasites.

Dave Isanski
 

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Very interesting, from what i can see in the pics they apear like ulcers. I havent seen anything like this on any bass i've caught.

I'm curious to see wether this pariste does infact affect any of the saltwater stock down there.
 

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Originally posted by THECHUMSTAIN:
Striped bass parasitic copepods

The type of parasitic copepod infestations depicted in the pictures below have been observed in Tim’s Ford, Watts Bar, Old Hickory, and has now become prevalent in Norris. The pictures below are from fish weighed in during a December 2003 tournament on Norris out of the Hickory Star Boat Dock. 100% of the 27 fish observed had parasitic copepods present.
That one can keep my plug.
 

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The report is from landlocked stocked lakes. In the TVA system and in VA near Ronoake (easy 300 miles inland). Not to say that these same bugger aren't out there in other areas. It has been really hard on the fish in Smith Mountain Lake.

Tom
 
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