Millions of dead sardines with neurotoxin to be used as food fertilizer

More than 85 tons of sardines that died late Monday in King Harbor, California, have been scooped up and hauled away to a composting center where they will be turned into fertilizer. High levels of a powerful neurotoxin were found in their bodies. Domoic acid has been linked to neurological disorders, illnesses and deaths of seabirds, sea lions, sea otters and whales. When it accumulates in edible fish and shellfish, it can sicken humans. University of Southern California biologist David Caron warned that animals feasting on the sardines will probably die. So why are they putting the sardines in human food fertilizer? ~ Ed.

Yahoo News reports:

The millions of sardines that were found floating dead in a Southern California marina this week tested positive for a powerful neurotoxin, researchers said Friday.

High levels of domoic acid were found in the sardines, which may have distressed them off the Los Angeles coastline and caused them to swim into the Redondo Beach marina, University of Southern California biologist David Caron wrote in a summary of his laboratory’s findings which were reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Caron said that he still believes that critically low oxygen levels in the water caused the sardines to suffocate, but it’s possible the toxin may have been one explanation for why they crowded into the marina.

The California Department of Fish and Game has blamed the die-off on oxygen deprivation and is also testing fish for toxins at its animal forensics laboratory. Results are not expected until next week.

Domoic acid is often found in the stomach of fish that have been feeding on plankton during toxic algae blooms. The toxin has been linked to neurological disorders, illnesses and deaths in seabirds, sea lions, sea otters and whales.

Caron’s lab is working to determine if the poisoning was caused by a toxic algae bloom spotted off Redondo Beach on Wednesday.

The presence of the toxin in the sardines could lead to health complications for pelicans, gulls and other sea life that have been feasting on the dead fish.

“There were tons of birds feeding on these fish and it’s conceivable that we’ll see some bird mortality as a result,” Caron said.

The fish died late Monday and carpeted the water’s surface the next morning, stacking up to 2 feet deep in some places. Crews have already scooped and hauled away more than 85 tons of fish to a composting center where they will turn into fertilizer.

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LA Times reports:

Domoic acid is often found in the stomachs of fish that have been feeding on plankton on the ocean’s surface during toxic algae blooms. The toxin has been linked to neurological disorders, illnesses and deaths of seabirds, sea lions, sea otters and whales. When it accumulates in edible fish and shellfish, it can sicken humans.

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March 12 UPDATE: Millions of sardines, anchovies, stripped bass and mackerel surge Acapulco, Mexico, obviously escaping the ocean but from what? Scientists not convinced it’s from the tsunami.

16 responses to “Millions of dead sardines with neurotoxin to be used as food fertilizer

  1. Crimes against Life ITSELF continue unabated.

  2. The LA Times and every other link I could find all announce that the sardines suffocated en masse due to low oxygen content in the water. And that toxins from an algae bloom might have caused them to be disoriented. Maybe the same algae blooms they’ve been eating for eons.

    So why the sensational “Millions of sardines dead from neurotoxin..” headline ???

    • the sardines were tested, as the article reveals, and found to contain domoic acid, a powerful neurotoxin.

      the “theory” that the fish died from suffocation is just that, a theory. Lab results now indicate something else is at play here.

      You should be asking why they’re turning fish known to be tainted with “high levels” of a neurotoxin that can kill whales into fertilizer for human food.

      • Thank you Rady, I’ve been asking the same thing of myself. The Times article mentions they’re expecting to see some bird deaths because of their feasting on the sardines, so logically maybe they shouldn’t turn this into fertilizer.

    • well…..how many times have you seen several tons of dead fish washh up in harbors???? if it was a normal phenomenon as you suggest, it would be happening every season . . .no?

  3. I’m definitely asking that, trying to learn if it’s commonplace, and trying to understand the extent of the health risk.

    Keep up the great work — I read daily, share the info, blog about it, etc.
    My comment was simply directed to the sensational headline, as it implies a cause of sardine mortality far different than what the scientists are concluding.

    • okay… and I appreciate your concern re: sensationalism. But my read of the info — that this neurotoxin can kill animals as large as a whale — leads me to the title, which … I don’t really think is over stated.

  4. okay… rethinking it some more… instead of “from neurotoxin” how about “with neurotoxin”?

  5. And here I thought domoic acid was the stuff they passed around at Dead concerts….

  6. “You should be asking why they’re turning fish known to be tainted with “high levels” of a neurotoxin that can kill whales into fertilizer for human food.”

    The fish are already dead. Any toxins will be decomposed. I hate to tell you this, but feces is extremely poisonous for humans to ingest, but we’ve been using it to fertilize our crops for centuries.

  7. Kristen Callahan

    Boycott California produce, nuts and food in general.
    More fuel for buy local and NOT in California. If they’re going to use composted fish on our food, time to write to the FDA and the USDA. Tell them to stop allowing high fructose corn syrup in the food chain too, while you’re at it. Also, get the Auxi-gro (MSG) off all food plants as well. Oh, I could make a list. Read labels, make noise.

  8. “This material just isn’t going to be willy-nilly added to fertilizer and sent out to be used on plants. It’s going be certified and tested,” said Dean Johnson, general manager of American Organic

    Here’s the latest on this….

    http://www.highdesert.com/news/toxic-26526-vvdailypress-victorville-challenge.html

    • well, that link led me to do some research into how domoic acid is removed from fish. I found several patents involving various acids and a centrifuge.

      Found nothing about how composting can do the trick. What’s weird is that Athens Services, Inc., a privately held corporation involved in waste management, does business under two different names, one being American Organics which, among other products, sells “organic” compost.

      I might have to break down and write them to see how they will safely remove the domoic acid.

      Considering that domoic acid bioaccumulates, I can’t see how composting it will remove it.

  9. If the fish are no longer alive, their body processes no longer work. How could toxins just “decompose” out of their system? Great, we are using more chemicals to remove toxins?

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