A sudden die-off of fish turned Redondo Beach's King Harbor overnight into a graveyard of what officials said was millions of sardines reaching two feet (61 cm) deep in some places.
King Harbor Marina worker (M): Yesterday, a lot of fish [were] in the water, floating in the water. I saw millions, millions. It's smelling now.
VOICE: The lifeless fish began surfacing in the 1,400-vessel marina early Tuesday morning, March 8. Tests by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) suggest that the fish suffocated due to lack of oxygen in the water late Monday.
Further tests are needed to determine what drove them into the harbor, although initial thoughts include an attempt to escape a toxic red tide, or perhaps storm conditions that drove the sardines to seek the harbor's calmer waters.
Port Royal Yacht Club member (M): We are just down here cleaning up. Basically, all the fish got chased in, got stuck in the harbor with extremely low oxygen levels. And due to the mass of them, they're all trying to breathe the same oxygen and suffocated.
VOICE: However, with the cause of these millions of deaths still unknown, crews including firefighters, harbor patrol, and nearly 100 volunteers had to begin removing the bodies before they decompose and potentially poison other sea life or cause an algal bloom to form, leading to further oxygen deprivation in the harbor's waters. The effort is estimated to take a week and cost US$100,000.
On Tuesday alone, 22 tons (NFT: 20,000 kilograms) of dead fish were collected from the surface alone, with some areas of the harbor bottom also containing thick layers of fish that also needed to be removed.
Speaking of the wish to avoid extensive ecological damage, Redondo Beach's city manager, Bill Workman, said, “The quicker we remove the decaying fish, the better opportunity we have for recovery. Time is of the essence; we have to move quickly.”
While we are saddened by the tragic death of so many marine co-inhabitants, we thank all personnel, and volunteers working to find answers and prevent further loss of life. Let us do our part in protecting all life in the seas through our more considerate stewardship of the environment.
As during an October 2009 videoconference in Indonesia, Supreme Master Ching Hai has often expressed concern about such tragic marine phenomena while urging for greater efforts to minimize our own impact to the oceans' balance.