Abundance—or absence—of birds, fish, and shellfish in the Bays are often the most noticeable signs of environmental changes. These living resources are useful indicators of shifts in water quality, habitat, and climate; in part because they are easy for us to observe.

Since the 2011 State of the Inland Bays Report was issued, living resource indicators continue to present a mixed picture.

On the positive side, Bald Eagles and Ospreys rebounded from pesticide pollution, and the number of osprey nests continues to increase. After declines in the 1980s, the number of Black Ducks that winter here has stabilized. Hard Clam populations have been stable since 1976 and continue to support a fishery.

On the downside, numbers of wintering Brant and Canvasback in the Bays are declining. The Blue Crab population has not rebounded. Bay Anchovy populations have also declined over the years. Bay grasses remain rare in the Inland Bays, while coastal bays in Maryland and New Jersey have thousands of acres of these highly valuable habitats. Recreational fishing and its local economic benefits have decreased, likely due to the recent recession.

Looking Ahead

Once-through cooling water withdrawal at the NRG Power Plant came to an end in 2013, along with the resulting fish and crab losses. This is expected to improve the fishery of the Indian River. Reduced nutrient inputs to the Bays should lead to future water quality improvements and, it is hoped, create conditions that allow bay grasses to re-establish.

Read more about Living Resources (PDF) »


Above Photo Credit: Herring gull with Blue crab Photo: John A. Fritchey

Posted Under: 2016 SotB