By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The largest fish kill of the year in Baltimore County continues to escalate. Hundreds of thousands of fish are dead in Middle River. Authorities first said algae was the reason why, but are now expanding their investigation.

Rick Ritter has more from devastated people in that community.

What started as 100,000 dead fish is now closer to 200,000. Some say algae is not the problem.

In pictures, it’s one dead fish after the other. In person, it’s the same story, but even tougher to take in.

“To see something like this just angers the hell out of me. It really does,” said Scott Sewell, conservation director, Maryland Bass Nation.

For Sewell, this is home. He’s been fishing in the area for years and has never seen anything quite like the current kill.

Thousands of dead fish, floating helplessly in upper Middle River and several of its tributaries.

Ritter: “I can tell how passionate you are about what you do, and when you pick these fish up, I just look at your eyes… You look upset.”

Sewell: “I am… It really is. When you care so much about the environment.”

Maryland Department of the Environment first said a strain of algae was to blame.

“I really think this is more than just an algae bloom here,” Sewell said.

But after concerns from several citizens, they’re now looking at a possible discharge into the waters.

“We’re investigating it and working closely with the county,” said Ben Grumble, secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment.

Something Sewell feels is being done purposely and carelessly.

“As a retired trooper who did a lot of investigations, this one doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said.

So far, the investigation has not shown any signs of chemical pollution.

Water samples have been sent to the University of Maryland for further testing.

In the meantime, authorities recommend that anglers avoid eating fish from the area.

Blooms of this type of algae are typically seen in the late spring or summer months. The warm weather this fall might have allowed the algae to survive and grow, and recent drops in the water temperature might have caused the algae to die.

The waterways affected include Norman Creek, Hopkins Creek, Dark Head Cove and the upper Middle River.

The fish affected include largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegills, crappies, chain pickerel, pumpkinseed sunfish, carp, killifish and Atlantic menhaden.

Rick Ritter

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