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Drone Photos Show Scale of Harmful Algae Bloom That’s Killing Fish Across SF Bay

Written by Bay City News and Joe BurnPublished Aug. 29, 2022 • 11:00am
In an aerial view, cars drive on the San Francisco Bay Bridge over brownish water from an algal bloom in the San Francisco Bay on August 22, 2022 in San Rafael, California. Sections of the San Francisco Bay are being turned brown by a potentially harmful algal bloom. The California Department of Public Health has identified the algae and says it is currently not harmful to humans but could be fatal to fish and some marine life if exposed to high concentrations of the algae. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Drone photos show the shocking scale of a harmful algae bloom that is killing huge numbers of fish around the Bay Area, including sharks and sturgeon, which is said to be “highly unusual.”

Photos from Getty’s Justin Sullivan taken above the Bay Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and at Alameda’s Ballena Bay, show the extent of the brown and green bloom that gives off a stench and is killing fish. The photos were taken on Aug. 22. 

Environmental group San Francisco Baykeeper reported Sunday that hundreds of dead fish were visible at the Oakland Yacht Club and in the middle of the bay between the Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges.

The group released photos to its social media accounts showing large dead fish on San Francisco Bay beaches.

The fish die-off was also visible at various shorelines, including Oyster Point, Baywinds Park in Foster City, Hayward, Alameda Estuary, Lake Merritt, Keller Beach, Point Molate and Sausalito. 

In an aerial view, cars drive on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge over brownish water from an algal bloom in the San Francisco Bay on August 22, 2022 in San Rafael, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"In other words, we have evidence from locations across South, Central, and San Pablo bays," the group said in a statement. 

"This appears to be a substantial fish kill, most likely related to the unprecedented red tide algal bloom we have been tracking for the past month."

In an aerial view, birds fly over brownish water from an algal bloom in the San Francisco Bay on August 24, 2022 in Berkeley, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"We also have a report of a dead sturgeon on Stinson Beach," Baykeeper said. "Dead sturgeon washing ashore is really rare. Not sure if this fish died outside the gate or was transported by tides and currents."

In an aerial view, brownish streaks from an algal bloom are visible in the water at Bellena Bay on August 22, 2022 in Alameda, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Reports of multiple algae blooms have been made public on the California Department of Water Quality’s website. Urging caution, the department warns not to let pets eat any of the washed-up algae. The report also says not to eat any shellfish from or near the blooms. 

Joe Burn can be reached at

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