About 21,000 fish are dead at a California university research and care center after what the school called a “catastrophic failure.”
The University of California, Davis said in a statement that it was “devastated to report” the incident, which occurred at its Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture (CABA) on Thursday.
“The loss appears to be due to chlorine exposure, to which fish are especially sensitive,” the statement said.
The institution is still investigating what went wrong. It also initiated an independent external review and is analyzing the potential risk for similar accidents at other facilities, according to the Associated Press.
As an example of the kind of work that goes on at CABA, the facility noted that researchers were investigating how “environmental stressors” can affect different fish species, including green and white sturgeon and chinook salmon ― some populations of which are endangered.
Both sturgeon and chinook salmon were among the kinds of fish killed, along with koi and tilapia, The Guardian reported. UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell told the news site that CABA staff had raised some of the fish from eggs.
“It’s very distressing for all the staff,” he said.