Fish with cancerous tumor worries state official

  • Marie Cusick
A smallmouth bass was found in the Susquehanna River with a rare, cancerous tumor last fall.

Courtesy Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

A smallmouth bass was found in the Susquehanna River with a rare, cancerous tumor last fall.

A smallmouth bass caught in the Susquehanna River last fall was found to have a rare, cancerous tumor, and it has the head of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission worried.

John Arway tells WITF this should be a wake-up call to researchers studying the health of the river.

He has publicly clashed with the state Department of Environmental Protection over whether or not to list the main stem of the Susquehanna as officially impaired.

From WITF:

“It was pretty gross looking and it was pretty obvious it was extremely abnormal because neither my friend or I had ever seen anything like that,” says Arway.

It was a smallmouth bass with a cancer tumor that overwhelms its bottom lip.

Arway says he’s worried about how it was formed.

“A cancerous tumor like this has to grow very quickly cause these fish don’t live very long. It’s not like they’re human where they live 80-90 years, where some environmental exposure can take a long time,” he adds.

Arway says the commission has seen young smallmouth bass fish kills in the Susquehanna every year since 2005.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed with the state DEP that there isn’t enough data to list the Susquehanna as impaired, or single out a particular cause for the bass’ problems. But both agencies have stepped up water quality monitoring efforts.

As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, environmental regulators have spent a decade trying to figure out why smallmouth bass have been found with open sores and lesions. Many male fish have also been found with female sexual characteristics. The problems have threatened Pennsylvania’s $3.4 billion recreational fishing industry.


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