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Lack of oxygen caused California fish die-off

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:59 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Thousands of dead fish wash up along boat slips at the Marina Del Rey, Calif. on Monday, May 19, 2014. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's office said the dead anchovies, stingrays and even an octopus rose to the surface at a section of the harbor Saturday evening. Marine biologists believe a lack of oxygen in the water, caused by this week's heat wave, may have led to the massive fish kill.

LOS ANGELES — Lack of oxygen caused the death of tens of thousands of fish that likely sought shelter in a Southern California harbor, state officials said Tuesday.

Scientists suspect the large school of northern anchovies may have sought cover from a predator along the coastal waters of Marina del Rey on Saturday, said Janice Mackey of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Once in the harbor, the fish school became trapped, and subsequently depleted all of the available oxygen in the water," she said in a statement.

Workers have removed 300 bags of fish weighing a total of more than six tons, according to Mackey.

The dead anchovies and other fish including stingrays created a silvery blanket on the water's surface and a pungent smell that set off a feeding frenzy among harbor seals, pelicans and seagulls. An octopus was also found among the dead sea life.

Officials collected fish samples for further analysis at a lab.

Mackey said the agency had received various reports of fish die-offs in harbors throughout the state in recent years due to similar conditions.

"While the sight of so many dead fish may be startling to some, this is not considered to be too unusual," Mackey said.

Similar fish die-offs occurred in Ventura Harbor and at Redondo Beach in 2011.

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