(WBFO) The sharp scent of chemicals bites the air as Jason Krebill wades in a creek and pulls out two slippery, slimy, parasitic creatures. He was holding dead adult sea lampreys one in each hand. They were about two feet long, with suction-cupped mouths, lined with nearly a dozen rows of sharp teeth. Like a vampire, the sea lamprey latches onto its prey and sucks the blood and nutrients out of fish in all five of the Great Lakes. Krebill, a biological science technician with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a part of a team whose job it is to control the invasive species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is contracted by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to apply lampricide to the creeks and tributaries throughout the Great Lakes Corridor.
The number of young bass that survive to become adults has plummeted in about 100 miles of the Lower Susquehanna, as well as parts of the Juniata, over the last decade. (Karl Blankenship)
By Karl Blankenship
Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and Executive Director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991.
According to the Chesapeake Bay Journal, a recent study indicates the smallmouth bass population in the Susquehanna River are suffering a population collapse possibly connected to hormone-altering compounds and herbicides, weakening their immune systems.
The multi-year study, which involved dozens of scientists from multiple state and federal agencies as well as universities, said that exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, along with infections from parasites and pathogens, were the “most likely” reasons that few young smallmouth bass in the river have survived to become adults since 2005. Several studies have found evidence of endocrine disrupters, which interfere with the hormone system in animals and fish, around the Bay watershed.