This photo was sent to us by a Surfrider member in Oxnard. Hundreds of dead fish along with mysterious "blue goop" lined the shore last week. Are they related?
Our response: Two things happened during the week of February 15: First the Santa Clara River estuary breached. Second, the annual dredging began at the Ventura Harbor.
Most of the fish found along the shore were freshwater species that have thrived in environment created by the effluent discharge in the Santa Clara River estuary. The high water levels in the lagoon due to the extended lack of flows in the river have been problematic from McGrath State Beach, and there has been much debate over how to manage this area. It is likely that someone took a shovel to the berm, flushing the water into the ocean along with fish that cannot survive in salt water. Many of these fish were carp, a non-native fish that thrives in poor water quality.
What about the petroleum-smelling "blue goop?" We have seen this before when the dredges are operating, and our theory is that it is a lubricant used in the sand-moving operation. In both cases, fish and 'goop' and whatever else was in the estuary and the dredging discharges was delivered to the beaches downcoast by the longshore current that generally moves from west to east along our shores.
More on dredging here:
More on the Santa Clara estuary here:
~~Thanks to Kevin in Oxnard for sending us this photo. Please send us your photos of interest or concern! Remember, you are Surfrider's eyes on the environment!~~