Scientists Investigating Fish Deaths

The Pescadero lagoon ecosystem in San Mateo County is home to many endangered species.


A panel of scientists has been formed to study the Pescadero lagoon ecosystem, a 243-acre coastal marsh in southern San Mateo County that has been the site of several fish kills over the past decade. The Pescadero marsh and lagoon system, situated within Pescadero State Beach and fed by at least two local creeks, is home to dozens of bird species and endangered animals, including the red-legged frog, the tidewater goby, the San Francisco garter snake, steelhead trout and Coho salmon, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

"There are a number of endangered species in that lagoon," California State Parks spokesman Roy Stearns said. "It isn't just the steelhead." One of the main goals of the seven-member Pescadero Lagoon Science Panel is to "gain a better understanding of the natural processes at the lagoon and marsh, including those that may be leading to the fish kills," Stearns said. Steelhead trout were among hundreds of fish that died inexplicably in fish kills reported at the marsh over the past 11 years, Stearns said.

The newly formed panel aims to figure out why the die-offs continue to occur. "We're eager to have them get on board and look at why they're happening," Stearns said. The chairman of the panel, University of California at Davis professor John Largier, is an expert in environmental science and lagoon physical processes, according to the parks department.

Largier will lead a public meeting in Half Moon Bay Wednesday to introduce the science panel to the public, and discuss its goals and scope of work. Jessie Lacy, Ph.D., expert in Estuarine/Lagoon Physical Processes from the is on the panel.

Residents wishing to share knowledge about the lagoon or relate experiences with fish kills in the area are invited to speak during a public comment period. The meeting is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Historic Train Depot at 110 Higgins Canyon Road. More information on the Pescadero Lagoon Science Panel and its members can be found online at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27304.


Bay City News contributed to this report.


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