A large number of dead red abalone and sea stars inside coves along the Sonoma Coast have been reported, the California Department of Fish and Game said Thursday.
The department has confirmed reports of dead sea creatures in Bodega Bay, Russian Gulch, Fort Ross, Timber Cove and Salt Point State Park since Saturday.
Department biologists said the abalone deaths seem to coincide with a local red tide bloom and calm ocean conditions, which may be a reason for the invertebrate die-off.
These conditions have been know to cause abalone mortality in the past along Northern California coasts, biologists said. Biologists said the die-off is not attributed to withering syndrome, an abalone disease that can kill abalone.
The abalone are not withered and other invertebrates have been affected, eliminating the disease as the cause of the deaths.
An exact number of abalone and other invertebrate deaths has not been reported, according to the department.
Abalone fishery remains open, which limits divers and pickers to three abalone a day and 24 abalone a year in Northern California.
Abalone fisherman are advised to contact a doctor if they feel sick.
If anyone spots dead or dying abalone, they are encouraged to report the location and number of invertebrate to Ian Taniguchi at (562) 342-7182.
- Bay City News