Several Nicoya Gulf communities began their Wednesday in mourning following the death of thousands of sardines and sea bass spread across 2.05 kilometers of beach, according to the coast guard.
While authorities try to determine a cause, local fishermen say they are deeply troubled by the incident.
“This is not normal. We haven’t seen this many dead fish in 18 years,” Marvin Moreno, a fisherman from Costa De Pájaros, told The Voice of Guanacaste.
He referred to a mass poisoning of fish in Tempisque River nearly two decades ago.
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“In general, the bigger fish eat the sardines,” Moreno said.
The deaths of these species could have serious consequences for local fishermen because sardines are an important link in the food chain, and commercial species like sea bass depend on them. Fishermen also use them as bait, said Marviva biologist Erick Ross.
“For the ecosystem they’re a base that sustains the entire food chain, along with shrimp,” Ross said.
“This threatens us a lot because sea bass are the primary target of responsible fishing communities,” said fisherman Rafael Umaña of the gulf community Puerto Níspero.
According to authorities, the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute and the coast guard took several samples from the area that will be tested at the National University lab.
For the moment, it’s unclear which agency is tasked with removing the dead fish.