Science to support aquatic animal health

Fact Sheet 2016-3091
By:  and 



Healthy aquatic ecosystems are home to a diversity of plants, invertebrates, fish and wildlife. Aquatic animal populations face unprecedented threats to their health and survival from climate change, water shortages, habitat alteration, invasive species and environmental contaminants. These environmental stressors can directly impact the prevalence and severity of disease in aquatic populations. For example, periodic fish kills in the upper Chesapeake Bay Watershed are associated with many different opportunistic pathogens that proliferate in stressed fish populations. An estimated 80 percent of endangered juvenile Puget Sound steelhead trout die within two weeks of entering the marine environment, and a role for disease in these losses is being investigated. The introduction of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV) into the Great Lakes—a fishery worth an estimated 7 billion dollars annually—resulted in widespread fish die-offs and virus detections in 28 different fish species. Millions of dying sea stars along the west coast of North America have led to investigations into sea star wasting disease. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are assisting managers with these issues through ecological investigations of aquatic animal diseases, field surveillance, and research to promote the development of mitigation strategies.

Suggested Citation

Purcell, M.K., and Harris, M.C., 2016, Science to support aquatic animal health: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3091, 2 p.,

ISSN: 2327-6932 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Disease Ecology, Surveillance, and Development of Mitigation Strategies
  • What We Do
  • Why the USGS
  • USGS Web Links
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Science to support aquatic animal health
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2016-3091
DOI 10.3133/fs20163091
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 2 p.
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details