The Harbor's Stinky Situation

by Hanae Armitage

Oct. 23, 2013—The anchovy's reputation as the Monterey Bay’s current #1 food supply went belly-up over the weekend when tens of thousands of these fish found themselves trapped in the Santa Cruz harbor. Abrupt and unexpected, the massive anchovy movement quickly depleted the oxygen level in the harbor, sparking a huge anchovy die-off. Though uncommon, it’s happened on four previous occasions, each time resulting in 1,000 to 2,000 tons of dead fish tying up the harbor.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that the Port District, in search of a solution, has installed 30 aerators to circulate and replenish oxygen levels, but the aerators aren’t fish revivers. For now, it’s up to volunteers, organizations like Save Our Shores and hungry scavengers to dispel the stinky bulk of floating anchovies.

Unprecedented numbers of anchovies in Monterey Bay have brought an epic wildlife show to Santa Cruz this fall as humpback whales, sea lions and birds feast on the small fish.

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