09 Mar

Fishy News Guest Commentary: Apocolypse stories are kinda spooky. I don’t like them but many media do. They make everyone feel a little spooked and nature did it.

Sometimes when you live in Los Angeles it’s always good to head across the internet waters to Sydney, Australia to get a snap shot of what’s happening in LA. That seems to be the order of the day in the US these days. For a bit. I wouldn’t normally associate palm trees with anchovies floating belly up, but I guess today we have to, because look at this photograph via the Associated Press, perhaps the biggest fan of apocalypse news stories. That story goes like this:

“The apocalypse scene of sh*te loads of dead sardines have left fishermen and harbour chiefs are puzzled after millions of dead sardines were found floating in a marina just south of Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Experts said the fish, found at a harbour in Redondo Beach, may have died from lack of oxygen due to algae, while locals wondered if high winds overnight might have had something to do with it.

“It looks like what happens to goldfish when you don’t change the water in the tank, mouth open and belly up,” local official Bill Workman said, cited by the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

“There are no visible signs of any toxins that might have caused [the deaths] and our early assessment is that this was oxygen depletion,” he said, adding: “There are no oil slicks or leaking of substances into the water.”

Locals at Redondo Beach, where the stench from the dead fish hung over King Harbour, suggested that high winds could have driven the fish into the harbour, where their sheer numbers would have reduced the oxygen available.

Experts were cautious.

“What we’re trying to tease apart is whether it’s a consequence of algal build-up, a fish build-up or something toxic in the water,” David Caron of the University of Southern California said.

California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan told Reuters: “Essentially Basin 1 of Redondo Beach Harbour is full of dead sardines floating on the water, probably 5 per cent of the total basin harbour is filled with sardines that are dead.”

Mr Hughan said biologists had tentatively concluded that the massive group of fish, known as a “bait ball” and initially identified by police as anchovies, died from oxygen deprivation after being driven into a closed-off pier area by rough seas and heavy winds.

“It looks like they just swam in the wrong direction and ended up in a corner of the pier that doesn’t have any free-flowing oxygen in it,” Mr Hughan said.

“There’s nothing that appears to be out of sorts, no oil sheen no chemicals, no sign of any kind of illegal activity,” he said. “As one fisherman just told me, this is natural selection.”

Mr Hughan said such incidents were rare but not unheard of.

“The issue now is clean-up because we have tonnes and tonnes of dead fish rotting and putrefying, which obviously creates hazardous material,” Redondo Beach Police Sergeant Phil Keenan said.

Trudy Padilla, the marina’s tenant services co-ordinator, said the dead fish suddenly began showing up overnight, and that one end of the marina had been blocked off as clean-up operations got organised.

King Harbour Marina provides 850 boat slips to private vessels.

Meanwhile readers of the Los Angeles Times website were offering their suggestions.

That’s just freaky! Thanks SMH.

~Posted by Horiwood.Com, Hollywood California USA. 3.8.11, a supporter of ~



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