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Redondo Beach city workers help clean up dead sardines

March 10, 2011 | 12:08 pm

City of Redondo Beach employees participated on day three of sardine cleanup Thursday, scooping up the silver-scaled remains into nets and transporting them in wheelbarrows to plastic-lined Dumpsters.

Meanwhile, work boats from two private companies arrived to gently vacuum dead fish from the rocky floor of King Harbor marina, where 30 to 40 tons of sardines remained submerged, said City Manager Bill Workman.

About 50 tons of hot dog-sized fish have been scooped from the water, said Sgt. Phil Keenan of the Redondo Beach Police Department. 

About 80 city workers showed up at 6 a.m. for cleanup duty, Keenan said.

Firefighting recruits from the El Camino Fire Academy in Inglewood were expected to aid the cleanup Thursday afternoon, Workman said.

On Wednesday, about 200 volunteers rotated in throughout the day, armed with buckets and pool nets.  Workman declared a local state of emergency at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and it remained in effect Thursday.

The declaration allows the city of Redondo Beach to seek federal reimbursement for equipment and resources used in the cleanup, Workman said. Testing on water samples and sardines in the marina continued to indicate that a lack of oxygen in the water caused the massive die-off.

After discussing the event with multiple fisherman in the area, it appears a large school of mackerel may have chased the sardines into the shallow water, Workman said.

The over-abundance of sardines caused the dramatic loss of oxygen in the water. No pollutants or toxins have been found in the marina, Workman said.


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Photo: Visitors look at dead 8-inch sardines at King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach on March 8. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times