Are Delaware's Inland Bays threatened by a silent killer? Find out in a public lecture on Thursday, June 11, at 7:00 p.m., at the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS) in Lewes. The presentation, by CMS marine biologist Kent Price, is part of the "Ocean Currents Lecture Series" initiated earlier this year by the college in honor of the International Year of the Ocean.
As a member of the CMS faculty for the past 34 years, Price has conducted a broad range of environmental and fisheries research ranging from the development of a novel artificial reef made of stabilized coal-ash waste, to an analysis of various seaweeds that may serve as a food source for fish in Delaware's Inland Bays. Price also directs the University's Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, which includes specialists in aquaculture, marine education, seafood technology, marine resource management, and marine recreation and tourism who help coastal businesses and residents address problems and opportunities in these areas.
Widely viewed as the "crown jewel" of a beach recreation industry that is valued in excess of $250 million dollars annually, Delaware's Inland Bays consist of three interconnected bodies of water -- Rehoboth, Indian River, and Little Assawoman bays. However, the bays are suffering from nutrient enrichment problems that have caused a number of serious effects in the aquatic system.
During his lecture, Price will focus on three major symptoms of the bays' present health problems: nuisance seaweed, the fish-killing organism Pfiesteria, and a shift in vegetation from eelgrass and other submerged aquatic vegetation to algae-dominated systems.
"The last eelgrass seen in the Inland Bays was in the late 1960s," Price says.
"So based on that indicator, the bays have been in relatively bad shape for three decades."
Currently, Price is leading the Delaware portion of a two-year, $175,000 bioindicators study in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to examine the effect of nutrient enrichment on the plant and animal communities in the Inland Bays, with special emphasis on fisheries. Former chairman of the board of Delaware's Center for the Inland Bays, he continues to serve the center as chairman of its Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee.
Price's lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the University's Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat for Price's presentation, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279. For more information about CMS, visit the college's Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu.