'Carpet of death' in King Harbor

It took some chops for the Times writer — could have been Scott Gold, Nate Jackson or Kenneth R. Weiss — to take a holy cow, isn't nature odd tack on the story about the dead fish in King Harbor. I don't know if folks will be as bemused in Redondo Beach, but the approach works for me.

Redondo Beach awoke Tuesday to find a carpet of death laid atop the water, as if Davy Jones himself had burped up a couple hundred years worth of lunches. Thousands of silvery sardines floated atop the King Harbor marina fin-to-fin, with hundreds of thousands more, perhaps millions, piled on the coppery bottom, 18 inches deep in some spots.

If this was a natural event, as officials say it was, Mother Nature did not show her best face.

The Southern California coast, and Los Angeles County harbors in particular, have suffered from time to time from poor water quality and chemical intrusions. This, officials said, was not one of those instances. That didn't make it any less icky — and the cleanup could take days or even weeks, and could soon pack an odiferous punch.

"At some point, they will float up to the surface and it's not going to be pleasant," said Larry Derr, head of bait operations at the harbor.

They now know, by the way, that it's more sardines and mackerel than anchovies. They apparently swam into the harbor to escape whales or the storm and basically used up all the oxygen in the water. The deadpan quotes all day have been pretty good: "It's a whole lot of fish," Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan told the Daily Breeze.

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