Very often anglers will arrive back at the dock, clean the fish that have been caught, hose off the boat, clean up the equipment and then make a potential very big error: dump the leftover bait into the dock area or even worse the angler will dump the bait bucket with live bait or worms into the bay as "chum". Why could this be a bad practice?
Simply put this is the most common way for species not native to our waters to get into the bay and then become a potential danger to the eco-system of the bay. If the live bait is a species not native there is a very good chance that that species will survive and multiply. Without a counter enemy in our eco-system the unwanted species will become an invader species. This is exactly how we got flathead minnows, the rusty crayfish, goldfish, red swamp crayfish, rainbow darters and many other non-native species into the bay. Some of the invaders have been totally harmless but others have brought related diseases to the water.
Once introduced into the streams, rivers or the bay, the non-native species can overpopulate an area at the expense of driving out the native species. What may seem like an act of kindness can turn out to be very harmful to the environment. Hard to believe, but common bait earthworms are causing eco-system changes to our forests and wooded areas. The species are from Europe and dramatically change the eco-system. Simply put, these worms change the soil chemistry, reduce the diversity of other worms and can help spread invasive plants.
We at BOG, love the bay and the rivers feeding into the Bay. We do not work in this field but we do wish to protect the water. So we recommend strongly that you think twice before you toss left over live bait, as an act of kindness or laziness, into the water.