Thousands of fish likely escaping a predator swam into a Southern California harbor, depleted all the oxygen, and died.
That's what California experts on May 20 were calling the culprit in the deaths of thousands of deceased anchovies, stingrays and even an octopus that surfaced in Marina del Rey harbor on May 19. Forming a silvery sheen on the water, the fish were feasted on by seabirds, seals and other marine life.
"Once in the harbor, the fish school became trapped, and subsequently depleted all of the available oxygen in the water," said Janice Mackey of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in a statement quoted by the Associated Press.
Other wildlife experts said that although the deaths are alarming, they are not indicative of a larger, sinister picture related to pollution or climate change. It was probably caused by the convergence of numerous factors, said Dana Roeber Murray, a marine and coastal scientist with the environmental group Heal the Bay, to AP. In 2011, for instance, a million sardines washed up on Southern California's shores as well.
"They're not unheard of," Murray said of such deaths. "I would not tie it to a big indicator that bad things are happening in our environment. It's more like a multitude of circumstances happening at once."