VIDEO: Marine biologists say samples of dead fish found in Redondo's King Harbor have tested positive for domoic acid. Domoic acid is a neuro toxin that can cause neurological damage in birds and marine mammals that consume the tainted fish. The toxic effects can be passed up the food chain and scientists are now concerned about the health of the hundreds of gulls, pelicans and sea lions that were seen gorging on the dead fish.
175 tons of dead sardines scooped from CA marina
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Three weeks after a huge fish die-off in Southern California, officials said Thursday they have a body count but still can't say what drove 175 tons of sardines into the marina where they died.
As many as 2.5 million sardines created a silvery blanket on the surface and floor of King Harbor Marina on March 8, said Dave Caron, professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California.
Several theories have been offered about the unusual behavior. Some said the sardines were lost. Others suggested the fish had been chased by marine predators or ingested toxins that confused them.
Redondo Beach City Manager Bill Workman said he even heard from people who believed the sardines may have sensed the coming earthquake in Japan and fled.
Once in the marina, the sardines used up all the oxygen and died. Residents who live on boats reported hearing what sounded like hail but was really fish coming to the surface gasping for oxygen.
Boats were temporarily trapped by the fish carcasses in the south Santa Monica Bay harbor that shelters about 1,400 boats.
Hundreds of volunteers and city workers scrambled to remove the remains to ease the pungent smell and the potential threat to other sea life.
They may have gotten some unexpected help from the tsunami in Japan, which caused tidal surges and helped to flush fish out of rocks and crevices, Workman said.
Oxygen levels were slowly returning to normal in the harbor in large part because the city was able to clean up the mess in less than a week. Officials estimated the effort cost between $300,000 and $500,000.
"If you go around the banks you can still see some of the fish," said councilman Bill Brand. "The water is still murky and smells, but I bet you won't be able to tell anything happened in a month."
Kathi Lefebvre, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who tested samples of the dead fish, determined the toxin domoic acid was not a factor.
"There were low levels of an algal bloom toxin detected in fish," she said. "Toxin levels were lower than we've seen in many other events, and in those events fish were not behaviorally impacted."
That left scientist struggling to explain the strange behavior in other ways.
"The only question that remains is why the fish jammed themselves into such a little spot?" Caron said.
Millions of Dead Fish Appear in California Marina
March 8, 2011
Millions of dead fish in Redondo Beach, California have suddenly appeared and no one knows why - perhaps another sign of the apocalypse?
BY PAUL ROLFE
You're watching multisource environment news analysis from Newsy
Is it a fish apocalypse? Millions of dead fish suddenly appeared in a marina in Redondo Beach, California.
KTLA has the video.
“You can see that shot right there, just fish everywhere that we look down here. And it is all, not only through the channel way here, but all up against the boats... these fish are everywhere here and again these fish are all dead for reasons we just don’t know here so that will be investigated certainly by oceanography folks and other people down here.”
The anchovies, sardines, mackerel and other species showed up Tuesday morning in King Harbor Marina. No one is sure why the fish died, but USA Today reports there is a theory. A coordinator at the marina says they may have suffocated.
“...the fish apparently swam into the harbor to escape a red tide, a naturally occurring event that can poison fish or starve them of oxygen... [H]igh winds apparently kept the fish from leaving the harbor and they all crushed up against the harbor wall, where they used up the oxygen and suffocated.”
And Contra Costa Times and ABC report - the clean up has become somewhat of a challenge.
“Workers were using skimmers and nets to clean the harbor, and wheelbarrows to cart them out. It is unclear how the fish, typically used as bait for fisherman in the harbor, will be disposed.”
“They are treating the dead fish as a hazardous waste situation. As you can imagine, the stench along the beaches is getting worse by the hour.”
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