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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Zebra Mussels - Lakes
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Topic Review (Newest First)
04-15-2013 10:11 AM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

The dam runs water daily, mainly during the week and during peak power consumption times. It's primarily a peaking plant, which sells electricity to the grid during business hours. The best time to see the eagles there is during April and May.

04-15-2013 08:49 AM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Originally Posted by mad_machine View Post

I have to say I would not mind seeing that. Is there a scheadule or place they publish when the dam is open?

Here in Maine we fight to remove dams and celebrate their demise. Two big ones are being removed from the Penobscott River now. There are lots of eagles. We paddle the Susquehanna River every Memorial Day and enjoy the river valley's upper end. I do understand Maine is a bit more remote than the Susquehanna's watershed. Our concern with the effect of dam releases is the impact on the anadramous fish. Providing a feeding station for other species is better than not. I guess? We have to salvage what we can from our impact on this planet. Here is hoping that fracking doesn't eliminate the runs of fish. Eagles won't be the biggest losers. They can come to Maine.

04-15-2013 07:44 AM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes


I have to say I would not mind seeing that. Is there a scheadule or place they publish when the dam is open?
04-14-2013 11:52 PM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

I guess I'm fortunate in that there are lots of bald/American eagles residing at the head of Chesapeake Bay. One of the reasons behind this is a forage species known as gizzard shad, which swarm at the base of Conowingo Dam, located about 6 miles upstream of the Susquehanna River's mouth. When the hydroelectric dam opens the gates and water rushes through the turbines, huge quantities of gizzard are drawn through the system and ejected at the base of the dam. I've seen up to a dozen eagles show up when the dam's warning siren sounds, which is a signal that the water below the dam will be rising. The eagles are joined by gulls, herons and ospreys who circle above the rushing water awaiting stunned and disoriented shad to rise to the surface. Striped bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, channel catfish and perch join in on the feast just beneath the water's surface. It's a sight to behold, particularly during early spring when various spawning runs are taking place.


04-14-2013 08:05 PM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

You said you were from cny, iirc, I live on Owasco Lake. We have an Eagle that nests in Montezuma Wildlife Refuge and will occasionally hunt for food along the shoreline of Owasco. It really is a sight to behold. It was a bucket list item since I have never seen one before they nested in Montezuma.

Originally Posted by sesmith View Post
Cynical is good. We need more cynical

The only thing that gives me hope is knowing some (many) things were worse when I was a kid. More and more of the toxic waste sites are getting cleaned up. Air quality is better in many places. These days, it's not uncommon to see a bald eagle and occasionally a perigrine falcon, both basically doomed species around here when I was a kid. I put out more recyclables than I do garbage, these days. Change just seems too slow, and too political.

We need cynical people need to keep the pressure on.
04-14-2013 08:03 PM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

that is what I thought, Gary. Can't clean up the bay when there is nothing to clean it up. While I do not advocate bringing in an invasive species, have to wonder what the zebras would do
04-14-2013 06:14 PM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Originally Posted by travlineasy View Post
Yeah, I'm still cynical
Cynical is good. We need more cynical

The only thing that gives me hope is knowing some (many) things were worse when I was a kid. More and more of the toxic waste sites are getting cleaned up. Air quality is better in many places. These days, it's not uncommon to see a bald eagle and occasionally a perigrine falcon, both basically doomed species around here when I was a kid. I put out more recyclables than I do garbage, these days. Change just seems too slow, and too political.

We need cynical people need to keep the pressure on.
04-14-2013 05:50 PM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes


Ugh! Your stories are familiar. It isn't going to get better, soon! Catching all the "common" species here in Maine used to be a given. We would watch Ospreys catching flounder on the flood tide and join them when a feed sounded good. Pollack were so thick at times the schools would push fish onto the shore and they could just be picked up. Fresh haddock. No problem. I caught my last Atlantic Salmon in 1981. The only sustainable fishery I know of is lobsters. There was a day when they were almost wiped out, too.

Maine is still hanging on by a thread and I choose to escape here.

Thanks for all the advocacy your career represents. It made a difference.

04-14-2013 05:21 PM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

Actually, the decline of oysters began back in the early 1840s, a time when most folks thought they were quite abundant, but that was actually the turning point for the bay's oyster population. Prior to the U.S. Civil War the bay supplied nearly 75-percent of all the world's oysters. "After the Civil War, the oyster harvesting industry exploded. In the 1880s, the Chesapeake Bay supplied almost half of the world's supply of oysters. New England fishermen encroached on the Bay after their local oyster beds had been exhausted, which prompted violent clashes with competitors from Maryland and Virginia. Watermen from different counties likewise clashed."

When the oyster population crashed in Chesapeake Bay, commercial watermen switched to catching other species of shellfish, mainly softshell and hardshell clams. It didn't take much to wipe them out as well.

Looking for new ways to make a living on the bay's natural resources, commercial watermen switched to striped bass, a species that until the early 1900s was used for fertilizer on waterside farms. It took a lot of years to wipe them out, but by the late 1950s the entire east coast population of striped bass was doomed and headed toward extinction. However, it took nearly 30 years before scientists decided the striper population was in trouble. By that time it was almost too late and a complete moratorium was enacted in 1985 in Maryland's portion of Chesapeake Bay, while northern states put stringent catch restrictions in place for recreational anglers.

Atlantic menhaden, one of the bay's most important filter feeders, came under attack as the striped bass population rapidly declined. Menhaden feed exclusively on various forms of plankton, with phytoplankton being at the top of their dietary preference. The largest commercial fishing industry in the nation targets Atlantic menhaden and is based out of Reedville, VA. The schools of fish are encircled with large, purse nets, and then sucked up large tubes into a hold. They are then transported to the menhaden reduction plant where the fish are essentially cooked down, the oils extracted and used for paints and omega3 fish oil tablets, and the carcass is used for poultry and hog feed.

In 2006 the Atlantic menhaden commercial harvest fell to under 110,000 metric tons. This was a far cry from harvest levels of just a decade earlier, a reduction of more than 90 percent. There was no reduction, however, in harvest effort, which actually increased over the same period. Spotting a school of migrating menhaden in Chesapeake Bay and the nearshore Atlantic waters is almost unheard of these days. Three decades ago, schools measuring up to 40 miles long and 10 miles wide were a common occurrence.

Other filter feeders on the bay include barnacles, which until recent years were probably as common as zebra mussels in the great lakes. When I was a youngster every piling in Baltimore's Inner Harbor was totally encrusted with them. In some locations they were an inch or more thick, and they covered the pilings from the high tide line to the muddy bottom.

Sure, you can still find barnacles in the bay, but they no longer live in depths below 10 feet - mainly because they need oxygen in order to survive. The same holds true for all bay species, most of which that are still alive can only survive during mid summer in depths less than 15 feet, and that includes those that can tolerate relatively low oxygen levels.

With the exception of barnacles, all the other bay's filter feeders have been wiped out by commercial exploitation. And, until recent years, there was essentially no catch restrictions, at least anything meaningful. Ironically, Maryland's commercial watermen have essentially been putting themselves out of business for the past two centuries, mainly by depleting one bay resources after another. Additionally, they are among the only self employed businessmen that are able to collect unemployment compensation with a particular fishery closes because that fishery's population crashed.

There's a lot more to this story than meets the eye, and I didn't just pull this information out of the air and post it here. As an investigative reporter, I wrote about the Chesapeake Bay and it's fisheries for more than two-dozen publications for more than 35 years. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours both on the bay, and SCUBA diving beneath it's surface. I also fished nearly every state in the nation, and fished several countries, often fishing with the area's top fishing guides, interviewing leading state and federal fisheries scientists, and managed to collect tens of thousands of photos in the process.

One of the things I learned from more than three decades as an investigative reporter was you're not going to change some things, human nature being at the top of the list. People began using the world's waterways as a waste disposal system long before we were born, and this will likely never change. The out of sight out of mind scenario. We continue to dump human and animal poop into the streams, rivers, bays and oceans as if it will just go away. It never has. We bury our disposables in landfills, cover it with dirt, then cover it with plastic, and finally another layer of dirt, thinking it just went away. It's biodegradable, isn't it? Not in anyone's lifetime! There was an old saying by a long since deceased U.S. Senator "The solution to pollution is dilution." a rationale that still exists to this day.

I sincerely wish I were dead wrong on this issue, but I'm very confident I'm right on the money. Everything on the planet is now considered disposable. At one time it was pretty much limited to diapers, which at the time took up more than 66 percent of most U.S. landfills. Now, in 2013, telephones, TVs, computers, cars, homes, everything - we just toss them into a landfill, or into the water. Then we find some scientists to investigate why the water is polluted and you cannot safely eat anything that comes out of it. We have another team of investigators that are studying the worlds groundwater supplies, trying to figure out how they became so polluted. We have people investigating why springheads and groundwater supplies are drying up at an alarming rate throughout the nation, while agriculture and municipal users continue to drill deeper and deeper to obtain more and more water. They do this instead of creating reservoirs.

Then, here in Chesapeake Bay, we have Governor Owe-Mally, (O'Mally), who has presidential aspirations for when O'Bamma leaves office. Owe-Mally just enacted a stormwater management tax on everyone in the state, $125 per year for homeowners, more for business, claiming that all those impervious surfaces are why Chesapeake Bay is fouled. He figures that if we pay a lot more money, the bay can be cleansed of its impurities. Yeah, right! He says the money will not be dumped into the state's general fund. Of course, he has a track record of lying about these things.

Yeah, I'm still cynical!

04-14-2013 11:24 AM
Re: Zebra Mussels - Lakes

The decline in oysters is more likely a symptom, not a cause. Silt and excess nutrient runoff, and decline of wetlands are probably more at the root of the problem. I have a spring on my property, high on a hill in the Fingerlakes area of NY that turns into a stream. It eventually, makes it's way to the Chesapeake. When you realize just how large the Chesapeake watershed is, you realize that fixing the problem down there is a huge undertaking that has to include even where I live. It can't be fixed by introducing an invasive like the zebra mussel. Everything we do up here, with regards to agriculture, road ditches, industrial activity (like gas exploration and fracking...a hot topic right now in NY state), directly effects the Chesapeake Bay.
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