OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) An unprecedented red tide in the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay Area is killing a large number of fish along with other marine life whose carcasses are washing ashore, developing a foul odor that experts say could easily get worse in this weekends expected heat wave.
At Oaklands Lake Merritt, a favorite spot for joggers, walkers and the ones looking to maintain nature, crews on Wednesday began removing dead crabs, bat rays, striped bass along with other fish that began turning up on its rocky shores on the weekend.
The fish die-off at Lake Merritt and through the entire Bay Area could be because of harmful algae bloom that is spreading in your community since late July, said Eileen White, executive officer of SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.
We as a rule have algae blooms through the summertime. But whats unusual concerning this one is what size it really is and the truth that you can find fish kills, White said.
Most algae blooms end following a about a week. But a triple-digit heat wave forecast for the vacation weekend can help the Bay Areas grow a lot more, White said. She said that reports of dead fish started to arrive the other day.
This is an all natural occurrence of OUR MOTHER EARTH therefore, we dont know when its likely to end, she said
A microorganism called Heterosigma akashiwo formed a bloom first spotted in the Alameda Estuary, White said. It really is within the bay constantly, but scientists want to know what caused it to spread up to now and wide and for so weeks.
They state a years-long drought has prevented stagnant water from flowing in to the ocean and unseasonably warm and sunny weather could be helping the algae spread.
Jon Rosenfield, a scientist with the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Baykeeper conservation group, said high degrees of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in wastewater also drive the growth of algae blooms.
The only real lever that people need to control the thing is to lessen nutrients placed into the bay from the 40 wastewater treatment plants that operate round the bay, he said.
Rosenfield said sewage treatment plants are cleaning the water of solid material and bacteria, but theyre not made to grab nitrogen and phosphorus.
Treating the water for nutrients would cost vast amounts of dollars, and the ones costs will be offered to residents, White said. She said water districts are funding studies to comprehend the consequences of nutrients which have been within the water since people settled in your community.
The target is to make the correct regulations predicated on sound science, White said.
Experts may also be trying to know what exactly is killing the fish.
Algae blooms create a toxin that’s lethal to fish along with other marine life, so when they spread, bacteria in the water begin to consume the algae. Since it decays, it depletes the water of oxygen, leading the fish to suffocate, Rosenfield said.
Which of these mechanisms is operating here, the toxin or the reduced dissolved oxygen? We just dont know yet, he said.
Algae bloom has been reported in Contra Costa and Marin counties to the north and San Mateo County to the west. In the South Bay, concentrations of chlorophyll an indicator of algae density measured on Aug. 10 were the best observed in a lot more than 40 years, White said.
In Oakland, people considered social media to create photos of a few of the a large number of dead fish at Lake Merritt, where visitors have started complaining concerning the stench.
It doesnt smell excellent at this time, so its a nuisance, said Graham Webster, who jogs round the lake a few times weekly.
However the bigger question is whats happening to the lake and the bay? And whats causing it? Could it be our fault? Could it be fixed? he asked.
White said the algae arent regarded as toxic to people, however they could cause skin and eye irritation. Her office is recommending people and pets stay out of any water that looks reddish-brown.
Cely Aquino said she visits Lake Merritt regularly and seeing all of the dead fish was sad.
I saw most of the dead fish, and I saw several stingrays which were dead also. Its pretty sad, she said. But I figure nature its likely to care for everything.
Rodriguez reported from SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA.