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Fish die-off turns into a boon for composter

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade: Last week's mass fish die-off in Southern California has created an opportunity for a Mojave Desert composting firm that is recycling the rotting remains into fertilizer.

American Organic, which produces compost, acquired about 75 tons of the smelly sardines, which died from an apparent critical lack of oxygen in the water.

It feels apocalyptic, with so many weird and catastrophic events, some with no apparent explanation, happening lately.

There have been mass fish and bird die-offs around the world in the past year, most memorably in January, when nearly 5,000 red-winged blackbirds simply fell from the sky in Arkansas during the same week that 500 of the same type birds dropped onto Labbare, La. That all happened about a week after 83,000 drum fish washed up along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River. 

At one point, the bird deaths were blamed on New Year's fireworks, which were said to disorient the birds and send them flying toward the ground. The National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin later confirmed the birds had died of blunt-force trama from crashing into the ground, but again, did fireworks really freak them out in two different places nearly 500 miles apart? And if that's the case, does that mean tens of thousands of fish got freaked out and swam right out of the water?

Conspiracy theorists have blamed government testing (biological?), but how would that explain the hundreds of dead snapper that washed ashore in New Zealand the same week, or the birds that fell from the sky in Sweden or the tens of thousands of dead crabs found in Kent, England? (You can track such events at Wildlife Health Event Reporter.)

Coincidence? Scientists say these events aren't unusual, that they've been occurring intermittently throughout the past century and probably throughout history. But I've seen "The Seventh Sign," and Demi Moore was pretty convincing. 

Considering the devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and last week's beyond-tragic earthquake, which spawned a tsunami, in Japan, it could appear to add up to quite a body of evidence. 

My daughter came home from school yesterday with a schoolyard explanation from a bunch of eighth-graders who are certain the world will end Dec. 21, 2012, as the Mayans may or may not have predicted: 

"When did Sept. 11 happen? When was the Japan earthquake? Add the dates together."

09-11-01 plus

03-10-11 equals


That would be pretty creepy, kids, except the earthquake occurred on March 11. 


Top: In this March 8, 2011, file photo, Annette Burch gathers dead fish in the King Harbor area of Redondo Beach, south of Los Angeles. Cleaning crews on Sunday, March 13 finished removing millions of fish found floating dead in a Southern California marina, five days after the slimy, stinking mass of sardines was discovered.

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