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Massive fish kill on Puget Sound blamed on hot weather

The hot weather over the Memorial Day weekend caused the fish to swim closer to shore to feed on plankton and were trapped when the tide went out. (KOMO Photo)

BELFAIR, Wash. -- A massive fish kill on Puget Sound is being blamed on the recent holiday weekend hot weather. Thousands of anchovies have washed up on the shores of Case Inlet at Belfair.

"It's sad. It's really sad," said beach resident Kristen Wiseman. It has residents worried about what did this.

The people who live along with the beach say the fish started showing up a couple of days ago.

"I saw a little bit come in and it's like 'what is that shiny stuff in the water?'" said Wiseman.

That shiny stuff turned out to be a massive fish kill with the tide leaving the carcasses stranded on the beach and even higher up during high tide.

Lee Anne Martinez has lived there on and off for several decades and originally wondered if it was connected to the hatchery a quarter mile away.

"And asked if they were salmon fry because there's a fish hatchery up here, Coulter Creek fish hatchery," Martinez said.

State fish biologists say fortunately they were anchovies and part of a huge supply of the fish that cropped up this year and last. The hot weather over the Memorial Day weekend caused the fish to swim closer to shore to feed on plankton and were trapped when the tide went out.

"And so now it's lots of fish using up lots of oxygen trapped in shallow rapidly warming water and effectively what happens is the fish get cooked," Dr. Dayv Lowry, DFW research scientist said.

Fish biologists say it's not alarming because of the huge population of anchovies. Plus, it's happened before.

Similar events happened last year and ten years ago in the exact same spot.

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