Discovery of the “Phantom” dinoflagellate in Chesapeake Bay
- Cite this article as:
- Lewitus, A.J., Jesien, R.V., Kana, T.M. et al. Estuaries (1995) 18: 373. doi:10.2307/1352319
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Since its discovery in natural estuarine habitat of North Carolina in 1991, the widespread impact of the toxic dinoflagellate, Pfiesteria piscicida (gen. et sp. nov.), popularly called the “phantom” dinoflagellate, on North Carolina fish stocks has been established, yet little is known about its influence outside of North Carolina estuaries. Here, we document the presence of P. piscicida in Chesapeake Bay. A fish kill was observed after inoculating an aquarium containing mummichogs with sediment samples from Jenkins Creek, a brackish creek (salinity 11‰) of the Chesapeake Bay system. P. piscicida was the cause of the kill, as supported by morphological, physiological, and histological evidence. The appearance and behavior of the algae and symptoms associated with fish mortality were consistent with those previously observed in P. piscicida-associated aquaria fish kills in North Carolina. The discovery of P. piscicida in Chesapeake Bay supports the speculation that these toxic dinoflagellates have a dramatic and far-reaching impact on fish stocks in shallow, eutrophic estuaries along the eastern United States.