The Inland Bays are an important Delaware resource for the millions of visitors and beach residents who enjoy fishing, boating, and just viewing the wildlife in and around Rehoboth, Indian River and Little Assawoman bays. In addition, the Inland Bays are a critical ecosystem — providing important nursery grounds for shellfish and finfish.
On Thursday, April 17, at 7:00 p.m., at the University of Delaware’s College of Marine Studies in Lewes, Bruce Richards, executive director of the Center for the Inland Bays, will discuss current issues facing this resource in “The Inland Bays: Pollution and Solution.” The presentation will kick off the sixth annual Ocean Currents Lecture Series, which is held once a month at the Lewes campus from April through September.
In his presentation, Richards will provide details on the current status of Delaware’s Inland Bays. The bays are shallow, on the average of three- to eight-feet deep, and are poorly flushed with seawater. Impurities dumped into the water will remain for extended periods and can have potentially devastating effects on this fragile ecosystem.
“Many of the problems of the Inland Bays are due to excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that originate from human activities,” says Richards. “These nutrients feed the algae and can result in what is called an “algal bloom” and make the water murky. In addition, the plant and algal growth often leads to depleted levels of oxygen in the water. Eventually, the plants and animals that live in the water cannot survive these low oxygen levels.”
Richards also will discuss his ongoing research on the effects of CCA-treated wood on benthic organisms in the bays. CCA, or chromated copper arsenate, is a chemical preservative that protects wood from rotting due to insects and microbial agents. CCA-treated wood is found in many of the piers, docks, and bulkheads that are found in the Inland Bays. Initial findings indicate that this material not only affects the behavior of benthic organisms, but also increases their chances of mortality.
“But the important point now is to focus on solutions to these issues,” says Richards. “This is where organizations like the Center for the Inland Bays, along with the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service and other partners, can step in. Our role is to help citizens reduce these nutrients and improve water quality through research, education, and restoration programs.”
Prior to his position as executive director, Richards worked for the Penn State Cooperative Extension Service. He has a Ph.D. in non-profit administration from Penn State University and a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in agriculture from UD. Richards is currently pursuing a master’s degree in biological oceanography at the UD College of Marine Studies in Lewes.
The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the 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, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279.