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Fish Kill Caused by Cold

SpotA sudden drop in water temperature is believed to be the cause of the deaths of about two million fish, mostly small juvenile spot, in the Chesapeake Bay last week. 

Spot, a popular sport and bait fish known for the spot on their sides and the croaking sound they make with their swim bladders, are plentiful in the Bay in the spring through fall.  But by December they normally migrate out of the Bay into the Atlantic Ocean, where they range from Maine to Florida.  This year, however, an abnormally warm fall kept many in the Chesapeake longer than usual, and then a sudden cold snap killed them.

Here are some other fun facts about spot, or Leiostomus xanthurus, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:

* The Chesapeake Bay angling record in Maryland was caught in Tangier Sound and weighed 2 pounds.
* The largest spot ever recorded measured 14 inches in length and the oldest was 5 years of age.
* Spot are an important food source for other fish species including striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, shark and flounder.

Large cold-related fish kills have happened at least twice before, in 1976 and 1980, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

To read up more about water temperature and the Bay, click here to read an interesting article by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay office.

Below is a graphic that shows how  unusually cold water temperatures were in December. It is courtesy of a Chesapeake Bay data collection site called Eyes on the Bay that is maintained by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Watertemps


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Shame all the crabs have left the area. They would have feasted on the spot.

Visit Maryland DNR's Eyes on the Bay website ( to see data/story ( that shows record low water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay in December 2010.

Thanks very much to Eyes on the Bay for that temperature graph and the helpful links!

That is a Norfolk Spot.



Spot!! It's what's for breakfast!

Juvenile Spot Fish


I very much looks like a spot, but I think the spot is too high on the body. Since I'm not first anyway...I'll say it's a croaker!

It's a spot.


Leiostomus xanthurus

i call it a spot

That was too easy -- it is, of course, a spot.

Craig Brewer is the winner of the name that fish contest, because he gave the first correct answer after I posted the question on the CBF Facebook Page.

Craig, send me your t-shirt size and mailing address and I'll mail you a CBF T-Shirt.

Thanks everyone for playing!

Spot - Leiostomus xanthurus


Shame all the crabs have moved out as the dead spot would have been an nice meal for the crabs.

It's a spot!

it's a Spot. sorry to hear of the fish kill.

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