"This could improve the long-term health of the Pamlico Sound,"
Luczkovich says. "When you put a lot of freshwater into the system, it
could increase the flushing rate and, ultimately, have a rejuvenating
On average, the Pamlico River has a flushing rate of 20 days. Following Floyd,
the river's flushing rate increased to 4 days, or about 5 times the Pamlico's
normal turnover rate. It is anyones guess at this point what the long-term
impact will be on the Carolina Coast. Only time will tell which scenario will
emergea fish kill disaster, or will there be a happy ending? Scientists,
as well as fishermen, are watching closely.
"Its crazy to try to answer that question now," Luczkovich
states. "We dont know what will happen and we wont know until
we get more data."
But, regardless of what happens this summer, both Luczkovich and Ward
emphasize that we wont really know Floyds long-term impact for at
least a year and maybe several years.
Regarding reports in news media of the anticipated "massive fish
kills," Luczkovich cautions, "It is irresponsible to report certain
facts before we know them. [The news reports] show the danger of jumping to
conclusions about a complex system that were still gathering data on."
Hackney, Courtney, Jude Grimley, Martin Posey, Troy Alphin, Jeff Hyland,
1998: "Sediment Contamination in North Carolina's Estuaries." Center for Marine
Science Research, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Publication No.
198, 59 pages.
The Dead Zone
the Pamlico River Rapid Response Team continue to monitor the estuary's health. Parameters such as
dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and salinity can provide early warning of fish kills and algal blooms. (Photograph
courtesy Pamlico River Rapid Response Team)