Santa Cruz County

Thousands of sardines and paste-like substance washes up in Capitola

CAPITOLA, Calif. - A popular Central Coast beach is back open after thousands of sardines and a paste-like substance shut it down.  On Saturday, NewsChannel 5 went to Capitola, where beachgoers are still dealing with the fishy smell.

"That's really, really gross and get my child out of the water as quickly as possible," said San Jose visitor Kim Legue.

Thousands of dead sardines washed ashore, many of them and the smell still lingering on Saturday afternoon as beachgoers are back on the sand, despite a brief shutdown the day before.

Legue said while her kids thought it was interesting.  She thought it was strange.

"I don't know if I'm necessarily worried.  I was definitely questioning where they came from, just cause we had been here so many times before and never seem them like that before," Legue said.

On Friday, Capitola police cleared the beach for a few hours near Esplanade Park and called Santa Cruz County Environmental Health to investigate.  Neither the fish nor the paste were found to be hazardous.

County health officials said seeing fish along the beach this time of the year is pretty normal.  What washed up with the fish is something new.

"Basically environmental health did a check on the water.  What was found was a like a white, doughy-type substance.  It's unknown what the substance is at this point," said Sgt. Cliff Sloma.

Police said the county tested samples on the beach, and will continue to look for a cause.  For now there's no known connection between the fish and the paste.  This comes a week after a similar scene at Manresa State Beach where thousands of dead fish washed up.

"What seemed like thousands of fish out here.  So whatever caused them to come up, whether it was a fishing boat or some other reason, I would absolutely want to know why," Legue said. 

Health investigators said the paste-like substance is most likely something naturally created.

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