Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Big Stink

Last night, our city was beset by millions of visitors that mysteriously turned belly up and died. Was it something we said?
Read the story in the LAT (source of the above photo).

The explanation is that the fish tried to take shelter from the high winds last night in the harbor. There were so many fish that the ones that they ran out of oxygen. First the ones pushed to the shallow waters asphyxiated. There was simply no way out for them. Then the decomposing fish fed a bacterial bloom, further depleting oxygen, and the wave of death moved outwards into the middle of the marina.

I can believe it. The winds were ferocious last night.

Here's the jet-stream analysis visualization courtesy of CRWS, California Regional Weather Server. CRWS gets the data from NCEP, the National Center for Environmental Prediction.

Last November, Iris and I visited the nearby tidepools of Abalone Cove. A small school of small fish were caught in the shallows. I enjoyed watching their schooling behavior. When I tried to record it, the kids became very interested and started stomping around, drastically altering the fish behavior. Imagine if they are this frightened of kids, how they would react to the large waves we had last night.

Anyway, these are the kind of small fish that live offshore. Their abundance was the reason a pod of 50-80 blue whales tarried for nearly a month off our coast last September.

In the video, that's my kid screaming, "the sea anemone is going to eat the fish!" One fish had already been so severely weakened, that it was too weak to escape the tentacles of a sea anemone. She tried to save the little fish with a flick, but sent the fish into the grasp of a sea urchin instead. She was crushed, but I told her that it was too late for the fish, no matter what she did.

Then she started singing a song about the cycle of life. Or was it the circle of life? As they say in Tanzania, hakuna matata.

There are lots more pictures and stories in the tidepooling series.

The BBC video and story about this recent fish die-off shows the magnitude of the clean-up effort.

I am glad that the fish will be turned into fertilizer. It sounds like they were taken to the same place as the contents of our green (waste) bins. Our city parks are going to be very sufficiently fertilized this year. Unfortunately, tax receipts from the marina will be down as long as the smell persists, right at the time we have to pay for the cleanup. So come by and spend some money this summer, OK?

1 comment:

  1. I saw a story on this! It must be something to see. I hope they clear the fish out before the stink gets too bad.


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