DNREC Continues to Monitor Delaware Shoreline for Dead Croakers Reportedly Killed Off Assateague

August 3, 2004

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is continuing monitoring, cleanup and water testing efforts today along the state’s ocean shoreline in response to reports from the Maryland Department of the Environment yesterday of a large kill of adult Atlantic croaker off Assateague, Md. Saturday.

DNREC Secretary John A. Hughes said that by 9:30 this morning, approximately 2,000 additional dead adult croakers have washed ashore on Delaware beaches. The Department has made one pass through the unincorporated section of Fenwick Island and is working north through the state beaches to clean up the fish after receiving approval from the Delaware Solid Waste Authority to dispose of the fish and cover them with lime at the Jones Crossing landfill.

DNREC tested for bacteria yesterday and is taking ocean water samples today to test for bacteria, dinoflagellates, red tide and Pfiesteria.

“We have no indications of any harmful algal blooms or Pfiesteria in the water and the fish show no lesions or other behavior attributable to these exposures, but we’re taking precautions,” said Hughes. “Yesterday’s test results for bacteria were well below threshold levels and we’re testing
again today. We’re particularly concerned with tidal pools where water collects and isn’t flushed from the surf. We’ve advised all the lifeguards to keep children out of the tidal pools until we check bacteria levels.”

According to Delaware DNREC Fisheries Administrator Roy Miller, Maryland Department of the Environment also had no indication of harmful algal blooms or reason to suspect Pfiesteria in the water. As of 9:30 a.m. today, Maryland had not closed any beaches, noted Miller.

“We’re in constant contact with Maryland and if any water quality issues turn up, we’ll have advance warning and be prepared to make any decisions affecting Delaware beaches,” said Hughes.

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