Massive Fish Kill In UC Davis Facility Accident: “A Catastrophic Failure”

Sad news from the UC Davis Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture: a massive fish kill of approximately 21,000 fish. Here’s the press release from the university:

We are devastated to report that a catastrophic failure has resulted in the loss of about 21,000 fish at the UC Davis Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture, or CABA. The loss appears to be due to chlorine exposure, to which fish are especially sensitive.

 We are in the process of: 

  • Investigating where our process failed 
  • Notifying regulatory and funding agencies, and collaborators 
  • Caring for the surviving fish 
  • Reviewing processes in other similar facilities 
  • Initiating an independent external review
  • Developing mitigation plans for research programs that were directly affected
  • Supporting our students, staff and faculty

An example of research that was being conducted at CABA involved the investigation of bioenergetics and environmental stressors on fish species, which included green and white sturgeon, as well as endangered Chinook salmon. 

There are many other facilities where UC Davis conducts aquatic research that were not impacted by this situation. While many of these facilities do not have similar potential for chlorine exposure, there are some that do, and we are going to evaluate risk at those facilities.

We know that many researchers, regulatory agencies, Native American tribes and other partners trust us to care for their aquatic species.  We will work hard to earn that trust by conducting a thorough review of our facilities, holding ourselves accountable for what happened, and taking steps to prevent it from happening ever again.

We share the grief of the faculty, staff and students who worked to care for, study and conserve these animals. The people who conduct and support the research at this facility are conservationists, ecologists and veterinarians whose life work is devoted to understanding and supporting these species.  We recognize that this loss is particularly devastating to our community. We commit to understanding what happened and making changes to the facility so that we can ensure that this does not happen again.