POSTED: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 10:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, March 12, 2011 - 9:28am
Hundreds of thousands of dead sardines float to the top of Redondo Beach harbor.
Scientists have confirmed that millions of dead sardines that floated to the surface in Redondo Beach, California's King Harbor Tuesday died from lack of oxygen.
Citing USC biologists, Redondo Beach city officials say tests on the water showed no signs of "pollution or toxins as the cause of the die off."
Biologists say "the water in the harbor experienced oxygen depravation."
The dead fish -- which some estimated to total as many as one billion -- will be taken to a composting facility for organic re-use, according to the city.
Sardines move in gigantic schools, sometimes called "bait balls,'' and Monday's high winds, as some experts speculated, may have driven them into the harbor.
Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan said officials believe the fish "got lost" in rough seas and made a wrong turn at the breakwater, ending up in the harbor, where they used up all the available oxygen.
Public works crews spent Tuesday hauling away the fish away in large buckets.
The clean-up efforts will take five to seven days and cost about $100,000, said Redondo Beach mayor Mike Gin.
The dead fish were so thick in some places that boats were unable to get out of the harbor.
Sea birds have flocked to the area to feast on the fish.