Friday, March 11, 2011

Fishicide and Tsunamis

I love living near the beach in southern California.  But this week, I must say, life is not a beach.  It's that other word that sounds like beach.

Earlier in the week, a huge number of sardines swarmed into the Redondo Beach Harbor and suffocated due to lack of oxygen in the swarm.  The Harbor is not too far from where I live so I can smell the dead fish from my home and definitely at the beach when I walk there.  Some reports opine that a large storm forced the sardines toward the harbor for shelter.  Another report claims that a large school of mackerels chased the sardines into the harbor.  Cleanup of the 95 tons of dead fish is ongoing and urgent to avoid pollution of the Harbor.
© Daily Breeze 2011

However, I cannot go to the beach for a while because as of last night we are under tsunami warning.  Not just a watch, a warning.  First, there was a devastating earthquake (8.9 on Richter scale) in Japan last night, fifth largest in the world thus far.  I understand Tokyo shook for five minutes.  Then a tsunami 23 feet high in northeastern Japan near the epicenter washed away roads, cars, boats and possibly a train.  I think about my dear friends and colleagues who live in Japan and friends from here that were on their way to Japan and worry about their safety.  (Luckily I have since learned that my friends who were traveling to Japan had not yet left so they were not there when the earthquake hit.  All flights out of LAX to Japan are now cancelled)

At midnight last night, I checked Facebook and one of my friends had posted something from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration--who knew there was such a thing?!) giving a series of times that the tsunami waves are expected to hit the West Coast.  First, I checked for Santa Cruz and saw that they were predicting the hit at 8:15 am.  Here in Los Angeles area, the predicted time is closer to 8:30 a.m.  So I texted my daughter in Santa Cruz last night and this morning. She finally called at 7:20  a.m. frantic that something is really wrong, other than her neurotic mother wanting to warn her not to go to the beach this morning.  But my neurosis was not too far off given that she was unaware of the Japan earthquake and tsunami and regularly does go to the nearby beach to walk the dog.  Score one for Mama Bear. (or TSU-MOMMY)

I woke up at 5:00 a.m thinking about my daughter in law's family in Micronesia.  Some of them are in Guam rather than Pohnpei and luckily it is easy to get info about Guam because it is an American territory. The first waves have largely missed Guam.  But I cannot get any information about Pohnpei other than it is under tsunami warning, just like we are here in the beach cities of southern California.
© Paul Hoffman 2010

Since I started writing this entry the waves have started to hit and television images show not as much activity so far as feared.  It is low tide here.  I am watching a harbor in Santa Cruz on television and boats appear to be moving out of control in the harbor hitting other boats so despite what it appears to the eyewitness (my daughter just told me it was calm there) we are experiencing some effects of the tsunami.  The surge could be later than we thought and now the word is that the warning and advisory may be extended for another ten hours.   Guess I will be hearing the helicopters overhead for a while longer.  And good news from Micronesia--everyone is safe for now.  That is a relief.  Still waiting to hear from my friends in Japan, although it is the middle of the night there.

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