Meet Dr. Vicki Blazer, our 2011 Protector of the Potomac
Tickets are selling fast for our 9th Annual Potomac River Gala, which is fast approaching Sunday June 12th in Georgetown. We think a big part of the reason why is Dr. Vicki Blazer, the USGS Fishery Biologist who (accidentally) blew the lid off of the intersex fish phenomenon in our area back in 2003, when she was actually studying fish kills and sick fish on the Shenandoah River.
Since 2003, Vicki has released more research suggesting that intersex fish, fish with lesions, and fish kills might be signaling larger problems in our water supply. Her work has increased the visibility of endocrine disrupting chemicals, which mutate hormones give rise to intersex fish. Potomac Riverkeeper Ed Merrifield cited Vicki's work in 2006 when he submitted testimony to a congressional committee about the dangers that these chemicals might someday pose to human beings.
Vicki's work continues. Just last year, she teamed up with Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble to investigate fish health. Their research confirmed that fish health is an important indicator of river health:
Fish health is often used as an indicator of aquatic ecosystem health, and these findings raise concerns about environmental degradation within the Potomac River drainage. Unfortunately, while much information has been gained from the studies conducted to date, due to the multiple state jurisdictions involved, competing interests, and other issues, there has been no coordinated approach to identifying and mitigating the stressors.
Ultimately, Vicki, Jeff, and several other collaborators found that "multiyear, interdisciplinary, integrative research" is needed before we will know how to improve river health.
Scientists like Vicki, who expose threats to our local water quality, are heroes. It is through their work that most people come to understand what's wrong with our water, and it gives organizations like Potomac Riverkeeper the tools to improve our water.
For these reasons and more, we are thrilled to be presenting Vicki with our Protector of the Potomac Award on Sunday, June 12th. We hope you will join us in thanking her for her hard and important work.
See you there!