Friday September 23, 2022


A toxic algal bloom swept the California Bay Area late last month, leaving thousands of fish dead in its wake. Known as the “red tide” because of the reddish-brown color of the alga, it is the single-biggest environmental catastrophe of its kind in the bay’s recorded history.

Investigations continue on the red tide’s toll on aquatic life. Scientists and local officials are now looking for possible explanations as to why this happened and what they can do to prevent it from ever happening again.

“It is very rare in the San Francisco Bay, and the bloom is unprecedented,” Eileen White, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said.

Current estimates by the Department of California Fish and Wildlife suggest that over 11,000 fish perished. The bloom has killed approximately 10,000 yellowfin gobies, hundreds of striped bass and sturgeon—including the endangered green sturgeon—as well as sharks, bat rays, and anchovies. Most of the deaths occurred in Lake Merritt, a tidal lagoon located in Oakland connected to the bay. However, these numbers are only estimates, as it is currently impossible for wildlife officials to know the true totality of the kill.

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