What Killed The Fish In Redondo Beach?


Did you catch this news story yesterday? An amazing mass demise of small fish in Redondo Beach harbor. What caused this to occur?

I immediately concluded mass suicide. I mean, it has got to be pretty depressing to be a bait fish in today’s world. Apparently, my initial reaction was inaccurate.

Most journalists immediately assumed that a toxic waste dump had occurred. Who was this nefarious big corporation, and how could they perpetrate such a heinous offense? Turns out that their initial reaction was just as wrong as mine.

Believe it or not, fish need oxygen just as much as we terrestrial beings do. A fish extracts oxygen that is dissolved in the water through its gills, and then transfers that oxygen into its blood supply. In this manner, the gills of the fish are similar to our lungs.

But we terrestrials have a decided advantage in the oxygen game. The atmosphere is 20 percent oxygen — or about 200,000 parts per million (ppm). On a good day, water will contain 8 – 10 ppm. And yesterday was not a good day.

The huge swarm of fish actually used up all of the oxygen that was available in the harbor. And when the oxygen was gone, the fish died. In short, too many fish, not enough oxygen.

Of course, the Los Angeles Times still wants to blame humans for the problem. That seems goofy to me: how many papers do they sell to sardines?

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