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Baltimore’s Harbor Turns Green

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you’ve seen the Inner Harbor lately, you may have done a double take.  That’s because the water has changed color.

Alex DeMetrick reports shades between green and teal are new, and they’re kind of like a ghost.

During the past few days, the normally brownish water of the Inner Harbor has taken on an almost tropical hue.  It’s not a color most of us are used to.

“No, it isn’t.  But it’s pretty. I’ll take it,” said Randy Martin, Baltimore.

And along with the color change, there’s been a smell like rotten eggs.

“Where it comes from, I don’t know.  Other people said it smelled bad a couple of days ago,” said Ian Mills, Baltimore.

Baltimore Harbor’s waterkeeper started collecting samples for the lab and researched what’s happening.

“An inversion event.  That’s when the water at the bottom turns over and comes to the top of the harbor,” said Tina Meyers, Baltimore Harbor waterkeeper.

It’s sort of like water churned by a motor.  Only it was wind last weekend that brought the bottom up, and with it the dead remains of an earlier algae bloom.

“The green’s from the algae — the dead algae — and if there’s a smell it’s from this sulphur bacteria that comes from the bottom,” said Samantha Kappalman, Maryland Department of Environment.

Even though a reason has been found for the color change, it is still just a symptom of a bigger problem.

“It all ties back to there’s basically a dead zone in the harbor.  There’s no oxygen in the water for the fish and all the other animals, and it all ties back to too much pollution in the harbor,” said Meyers.

It’s not the kind you can see and trap, but nutrient pollution — like nitrogen from fertilizer and air pollution which feed algae blooms.

Inversion has simply burped up the ghost of those blooms.

When the algae originally died off, it triggered fish kills in the harbor.  The color change is not expected to do the same.

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