LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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.