If you’ve surfed Malibu in recent days, or even driven past the place, you might have noticed a hideous stench. Well, that would make sense. Late last week, hundreds of dead fish began bobbing at the surface of the Malibu lagoon, in an unprecedented die off. As of today, many are still there, rotting away in the August sun.
Scientists aren’t quite sure of the cause, but record-high water temps in the lagoon—it’s currently hovering in the low 80s—is the likely culprit. Water temps in the surf at nearby Zuma Beach have reached 77 degrees in recent days. All of southern California, it seems, is seeing rising ocean temps.
State Park employees have donned haz mat suits and facemasks to cart the dead fish away in wheelbarrows.
A controversial lagoon restoration project took place in 2012-13, with the aim of reintroducing plant species and making a healthy environment for native fish. Some locals are convinced last week’s die-off is evidence that the restoration plan failed, making the lagoon less healthy, depriving the fish of oxygen by preventing the lagoon from reaching the sea.
Weirdly, it’s actually possible too that the death of the fish, mullet, mostly, means the restoration plan actually worked and the fish population skyrocketed. At least according to Craig Sap, superintendent of California State Parks' Angeles District.
The lagoon so far hasn’t been breaching into the sea lately, but if it does soon, just imagine what kind of, let’s say, interesting water would flow into the break.