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There's Something Rotten In The Santa Monica Bay

Santa Monica Bay (Photo by antith3tic via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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Something in the Santa Monica Bay is creating quite a stink.

Fire departments have been fielding calls from people in Los Angeles and Santa Monica wondering what on earth that smell is. Santa Monica Fire Department haz-mat crews were called out to the oceanfront this morning to figure out what was causing the stench, according to City News Service.

They found unusual concentrations of methane gas in the air. They're not completely sure what is the cause of the stink, but they think it might be caused by something from the ocean: it could be stinky algae or a bubble of methane laced with sulfurous gas. Sam Atwood, a spokesman from the Air Quality Management District, said they haven't verified Santa Monica Fire's theory.

The bottom line is that even though it's kind of gross, authorities don't believe that it's hazardous or even all that unusual.

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Justin Walker with the fire department told the Los Angeles Times: "We usually have this happen about twice a season. There’s no special way of telling where or when it will happen. When we were getting south, southeast winds blowing into the city, we’d get the calls, when they shifted westerly, the calls would stop."

Changes in the water temperature can cause plankton and algae beds to bloom, which releases methane. But a shift in tectonic plates can also release the gas. No illnesses have been reported.

This reminds us of last September when a stench from the Salton Sea made the Valley smell like rotten eggs.