Oct 7 2011

USC marine biologist presents study of Redondo Beach fish kill

Millions of sardines floated to the surface at Redondo Beach's King Harbor in March 2011. (Brad Graverson/Staff Photographer)

By Melissa Pamer Staff Writer

For nearly six years, USC researchers have been studying coastal waters in Redondo Beach, waiting for an event like the one in March that left some 170 tons of dead sardines stinking up King Harbor.

As the fish kill generated global media attention and much speculation about its causes, scientists from David Caron’s lab at USC were already at work examining the evidence.

They parsed data from underwater sensors installed in the harbor in 2006 after another big fish kill the previous year. On Friday night, Caron will present their findings during a free event at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

There won’t be any jaw-dropping revelations. The explanation is very similar to that offered by Caron and other scientists in the immediate aftermath of the fish kill.

“What happened there was a low-oxygen event,” said Caron, a professor of biological sciences.

As hypothesized at the time, millions of fish swarmed into the harbor and used up all the available oxygen, essentially suffocating. It’s not really clear what drove them into the harbor.

There’s evidence from the sensors and other oceanographic data that an upwelling of cold ocean water from the deep had flowed into the marinas, lowering oxygen levels by nearly half in weeks before the fish kill, Caron said.

Read the rest of the story from the Torrance Daily Breeze.

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