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Didymo Algae Causing Problems For Trout

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Didymo, Algae, rock snot
Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Maryland is engaged in a full-time fight against non-native species invading the state, everything from stink bugs to mute swans.

Alex DeMetrick reports one of the biggest challenges is a foreign type of algae and the battleground is footwear.

The Gunpowder is one of the best wild trout streams in the country. It is also one of the latest to be threatened by invading algae called didymo. Also called rock snot by some, it can grow into thick strands and choke the life out of a stream, beginning with the insects.

“This didymo will actually kill the food source for the trout,” said Carl Cartier, trout fisherman. “It’ll smother the aquatic insects in the rocks and the river bottom, and that’s what the trout eat.”

Native to Europe, didymo has been moving around the globe.

“It’s moved from high-quality trout stream to trout stream right down the East Coast, and the biggest vector is anglers,” said Don Cosden, DNR Fisheries.

Specifically, anglers footwear. For this kind of fishing, felt soles are most common. That’s the problem.

“This looks like a dirty kitchen sponge and so it can hold a lot of algae,” said Theaux LeGardeur, backwater angler.

But starting later this month, Maryland will only allow rubber soles into streams.

At stores like Backwater Angler, banning felt soles is welcome news.

“I think it’s great for the resource because the felt-soled shoes tend to stay wet for up to seven to 10 days, and in doing so, they can be vectors for transporting this algae from waterway to waterway,” LeGardeur said.

Even with the plan in place, this destructive algae is not about to vanish.

“There are no techniques right now to actually get rid of it,” Cosden said.

So the plan is to contain it until some remedy is found.

“This isn’t going to stop it entirely, but it’s certainly going to slow it down,” Cartier said.

And hopefully, keep it from spreading.

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