|A Los Angeles County lifeguard scooped up dead fish yesterday in Redondo Beach. The die-off was believed to be a naturally occurring event. (Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)|
A million dead fish clog Calif. marina
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — An estimated 1 million fish turned up dead yesterday in a Southern California marina, creating a floating feast for pelicans, gulls, and other sea life and a stinky mess for harbor authorities.
Boaters awakened to find a carpet of small silvery fish surrounding their vessels, said Staci Gabrielli, marine coordinator for King Harbor Marina on the Los Angeles County coast. Authorities said there was also a 12- to 18-inch layer of dead fish on the bottom of the marina.
California Fish and Game officials said the fish were sardines that apparently depleted the water of oxygen and suffocated.
“All indications are it’s a naturally occurring event,’’ said Andrew Hughan, a Fish and Game spokesman at the scene.
The die-off was unusual but not unprecedented, he said.
“In the world of fishing, this is an afternoon’s catch,’’ he noted.
Nonetheless, the scale was impressive to locals at King Harbor, which shelters about 1,400 boats on south Santa Monica Bay.
“The fishermen say they’ve never seen anything this bad that wasn’t red tide,’’ Hughan said, referring to the natural blooms of toxic algae that can kill fish.
Hughan said water samples showed no oils or chemicals that could have contributed to the deaths. He said some of the fish were being shipped to a Fish and Game laboratory for study but the cause was likely to be uncomplicated.
The fish appeared to have come into the marina during the night and probably couldn’t find their way out, he said.