MALIBU—California State Park Officials found around 2,000 stripped mullet dead floating in within Malibu Lagoon and lower Malibu Creek on Wednesday, August 22. Researchers are investigating the cause of the dead fish.

The California Department of Parks and Recreation indicated in a press release that “Fish death has largely been limited to the striped mullet, no impacts to the special-status southern California steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus) or tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) have been observed.”

Park employees were seen wearing protective suits and carting out wheelbarrows of fish over the weekend. The remains of fish were still visible as of Monday, August 27. The cause could be the warmer water temperatures of the lagoon, connected with the recent heat wave. It would take several days to receive an official report confirming the results. Temperatures in the Creek and Lagoon were ast documented at around 27-28° C (80-82° F), which is the upper limit at which striped mullet can survive.

High temperatures can lower the available dissolved oxygen levels in the water leading to a rise in algal or bacterial growth the California Department of Parks and Recreation noted. California State Parks Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap indicated that researchers are currently testing samples of the water and the fish taken from the Malibu Lagoon.

Several nearby residents have complained of the smell and health concerns the dead fish have brought to California State Park Officials. In 2012 and 2013, the lagoon underwent a restoration program that residents believe could also be a factor in the cause of death.

“In natural areas, it is generally preferable to leave carcasses onsite for native wildlife to use for food, and add to the natural fertility of the soil and water. State Parks staff has decided to remove the dead fish in the main lagoon, however, due to their numbers, and in consideration of adjacent residents and the visiting public. State Parks staff began removal efforts over the weekend, and will continue to monitor the situation,” said the California Department of Parks and Recreation in a statement.

Written By Nina Garza and Casey Jacobs