A Fish Called Wanda
Male fish with female characteristics found in Potomac tributaries
Male smallmouth and largemouth bass in the Potomac River have been found to be developing eggs, leading federal scientists to suspect that, well, it may be something in the water. Female characteristics have been found in more than 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass studied in Potomac tributaries in Maryland and Virginia. Feminized fish were also found in Washington, D.C., and as far as the Potomac’s South Branch — a range of over 200 miles. The cause of the intersex fish is unknown, but utilities are assuring the public that tap water drawn from the river is safe. Ed Merrifield of green group Potomac Riverkeeper is understandably skeptical: “If they can’t tell us what the problem is, then how can they tell us that they’ve taken it out of the water?” Says Thomas Jacobus, general manager of the Washington Aqueduct: “I don’t know, and I don’t think anybody knows, the answer to that question right now: Is the effect in the fish transferable to humans?” Let’s hope not — there are enough freaky people in D.C. already.