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What’s happening to all or any the dead fish at Lake Merritt amid the algal bloom?

Cleanup operations began at Lake Merritt on Wednesday to eliminate a large number of fish killed amid a bloom of noxious algae that’s spreading in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay and adjoining waters.

Contractors hired by Oaklands Public Works department were knee-deep in lake mud, using nets to scoop up the fish carcasses littering the shoreline and place them in trash cans. The cleanup started early Wednesday morning and is likely to take all day long and could even continue into Thursday, Oakland Public Works spokesperson Sean Maher said.

That is hard labor. Its never a negative day to thank a frontline worker, Maher said.

Maher said the fish will undoubtedly be put into biodegradable bags, transported in trucks and incinerated, in keeping with state regulations because of this kind of material. Crews are hoping to complete the cleanup before this weekends heat wave brings unusually high temperatures to the region.

Were performing this work today wanting to abate a public nuisance. The odor is actually something else you want to be sure that the lake is comfortable for folks to go to, Maher said.

Cleanup crews started on regions of the lake with the best concentrations of dead fish and wildlife, such as for example at the intersection of East 18th Street and Lakeshore Avenue. After workers tidy up those hotspots, they’ll sweep the complete circumference of the lake.

The crews are scooping up fish in nets and placing them into nearby trash cans. 

The crews are scooping up fish in nets and placing them into nearby trash cans.

Sam Moore, SFGATE

Oaklands Public Works Department spent some time working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board since May to trace degrees of contaminants and harmful algae blooms through the entire region.

The scale of what were experiencing today is bigger than its been anytime recently, Maher said. Folks are recognizing that is really a huge regional phenomenon, and Lake Merritt certainly is really a place where were experiencing it acutely. But were section of a more impressive picture here.

Eileen White, executive director of the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said her team has been monitoring water quality at the lake and through the entire bay to find out what caused this algae bloom to remove and what conditions were necessary for it to attain this magnitude.

She suspects that the decomposition of algae and phytoplankton have already been lowering the lakes oxygen levels at an alarming rate, and thats what has been killing the fish not the algae itself.

The phytoplankton decomposition, the algae bloom decomposition, consumes the oxygen essential for fish survival in a wholesome ecosystem, and may bring about fish kills. I believe that’s what we’ve observed, White said.

Oaklands Public Works Department hopes its cleanup efforts allows the lake to become a pleasant gathering space once again prior to the long weekend. For the time being, Maher said, the town is advising visitors to avoid touching the water or whatever may be floating along with it.

Specifically, its essential to help keep children and pets, pets specifically, from those materials. The contaminants which were seeing have stronger impacts in it than they will have on adult humans, Maher said.

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