My first fish kill

Dead fish vacuum

This is a week of firsts, my first grunion run and now my first fish kill. The grunion didn’t show, but the dead fish sure did. I was supposed to be the naturalist for the whale watching trip on the Voyager this afternoon, but alas, it was canceled because not enough people purchased tickets. So instead, I and the other naturalist Steve went and checked out the dead fish action.

You’re probably thinking, how can dead fish provide any action? The action was all in the cleanup. A lot of King Harbor marina was roped off with police tape, which seemed pretty extreme to me. If people want to look at dead fish, let them look!

In the areas where we could walk, there was a lot of people scooping dead fish out of the water with nets. The most interesting thing we saw was this big truck with a tank on the back with a super long hose extending from it. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was for because the cleanup crew kept dumping dead fish on the dock. Then the purpose was revealed when they turned it on and started vacuuming dead fish with the hose. The whole machine looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, a wacky dead fish sucking contraption.

Oh and then there was the smell. It was getting pretty rank and then when the dead fish smell combined with diesel fumes, I almost gagged. Seeing all the dead fish was depressing, what a waste of a resource. And looking down into the harbor water I noticed how still it was, like a lake. I can’t stop wondering if the harbor wasn’t there, would the fish have still died?

The funny thing is, there are a lot of people who want to see dead fish. When I was waiting to see if the whale watching boat was going out, a guy came up and instead of asking about whale watching he asked: “Where are the dead fish?” We pointed him north in the direction of the fish kill. We could have just said, “Follow the smell.”


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