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Investigating the Estuarine Turbidity Maximum Zone
In the upper reaches of estuaries throughout the world are areas characterized by high levels of suspended particles. These areas, known as Estuarine Turbidity Maxima (ETM), created by estaurine physics, are located near the salt fronts. It has been suspected that the ETM region in the Chesapeake Bay plays a significant role in retaining planktonic organisms, thus creating productive larval fish nursery areas and influencing the survival of young white perch, striped bass, and shads.
In multidisciplinary research, Dr. Edward Houde and his UMCES colleagues have investigated physical and biological processes in the ETM of the Chesapeake Bay in the BITMAX project. Findings have indicated that freshwater flow from the Susquehanna River, topography, and winds, are important in structuring this convergence zone and in controlling the quantity of plankton prey of fish larvae. Fish larvae and juveniles are concentrated in the ETM. Newly hatched larvae may passively accumulate in the ETM convergence, and then remain there through the juvenile stage due to the abundant food.
BITMAX researchers are striving to understand how annual variability in the physics and biology of the ETM region influence survival of young fish.
For more information, see visit the BITMAX website.