Red Tide’s Toxic Waters Have Killed “Uncountable” Fish in the Bay Area

Due to a toxic algal bloom in San Francisco Bay, thousands of dead fish have begun to accumulate on the beaches of Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, creating an overwhelming odor.

Several fish and bird species make their home in Lake Merritt, the oldest wildlife refuge in North America; however, the lake has recently experienced an out-of-control algal bloom that has caused a noxious “red tide” and unpleasant odor. This may be the result of climate change and the increased warmth of the lake.

Topsmelt, bass, and bat rays are just some of the species of fish that have been washing up on the coasts; by Monday afternoon, it was estimated that as many as 10,000 fish had perished.

James Robinson, executive director of the Lake Merritt Institute, said the San Francisco Chronicle, “I have not seen this lot of fish dead from the red tide before.”

“It’s quite fishy,” Robinson said. I wouldn’t say it’s overpowering right now, but the odor is definitely noticeable.

This area’s food web may be impacted. Many species of birds and fish in the lake feed off of the organic matter and marine organisms that are already there, he explained.

Heterosigma akashiwo, the microbe responsible for the red algal bloom, suddenly appeared in July and has since expanded throughout the entire Bay.
Yahaghi, who has lived near the lake for the past 19 years, said that the current stench is the worst he has ever experienced and that local officials should take immediate action.

You can see all this progress—great—so it’s why don’t you care? I want to know, “What is the city doing about it?”

Jeanine Jensen, another Oakland local, says the fish piles are a’startling’ manifestation of climate change just outside her door.

‘This is not like looking at pictures of melting icebergs; it is happening in front of my eyes. This is very disturbing.

According to the California Department of Public Health, red tides on the lake are not unprecedented and typically occur in the winter months of February and March and the late summer months of August and September.