Thousands of anchovies fall from sky, wash ashore in the Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Thousands of dead anchovies washed ashore on the Bolinas Lagoon shore in Marin County, California, and fell from the sky earlier this week, according to photos and video shared with ABC News' San Francisco affiliate, ABC7 News, KGO.

"This is just one of those times where we kind of get to see just the sheer number of the size of these schools of fish," Marin County Parks director Max Korten told ABC7 News. "So it's kind of amazing."

There is still uncertainty about why the fish washed up on the shore. Referencing biologists, Korten explained, "What likely happened is, you know, some kind of predator out in the ocean encountered a school of anchovy somewhere near the mouth of Bolinas Lagoon," according to ABC7 News.

He said this possibly pushed the anchovy more toward the shallow water, where they sucked up the limited oxygen and suffocated, according to ABC7 News.

A volunteer researcher told ABC7 News the anchovy could have been going where the food is.

Jim Ervin told ABC7 this La Nina year is generating more food production and the foraging fish are following. He explained the cool water is bringing in more anchovy than seen in the last 10 years off the coast and in the bay.

Ervin said seabirds are feasting. "There's more fish than they know what to do with," he told ABC7 News.

Officials said there is no reason to panic over the mass die-off, saying similar events have happened several times over the last few decades.

"My biggest words of assurance, I guess, is that anchovy populations boom and bust," Ervin told ABC7 News. "And we're in a boom year. Then things like that, they drive 'em into the shore and unfortunately they do themselves in sometimes."

Korten with Marin County Parks told ABC7 News the Bolinas Lagoon as a pretty fragile ecosystem and is encouraging anyone wanting to see the anchovies, to be mindful of the environment.

"It's a home to a really abundant amount of marine life," he said. "We just asked if anybody goes near there, just use caution and not to disturb the animals, the seals and things that make their home there."

ABC News' Amanda del Castillo, Jeffrey Cook and Jennifer Metz contributed to this report.

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