SM BAY — Santa Monica’s Heal the Bay is looking for volunteers who don’t mind the smell of a few million dead sardines.

With the massive fish kill in Redondo’s King Harbor earlier this week, the most pressing issue now is the clean-up, officials with the environmental watchdog said Wednesday. It’s critical that all the dead fish are removed within the next couple of days to prevent an even worse problem.

"The biggest concern is that there could be even more oxygen depletion in the water if dead fish aren’t removed ASAP," said Matt King, spokesman for Heal the Bay. "It takes an enormous amount of oxygen to break down such a huge biomass. And as you may have read it’s the oxygen depletion that already killed the fish in the first place so you want to get the oxygen balance right as soon as possible. All those decomposing fish would make that a challenge."

If you have some time to help, check in at the old Red Onion site, just north of the Cheese Cake Factory, 655 N. Harbor Dr., Redondo Beach. There will be other volunteers there to direct you on how you can help from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Even a couple hours will make a tremendous difference, Heal the Bay said.

Water, food and sunscreen will be provided to volunteers. No experience or supplies are required — only enthusiasm.

In the meantime, scientists are analyzing samples of fish and water to determine the cause of the die-off in King Harbor. Heal the Bay is monitoring the situation through colleagues at the Redondo Beach SEA Laboratory and the University of Southern California.

Samples will be analyzed for the presence of any harmful algae, though early reports indicate there is no discoloration of the water to indicate massive amounts of algae. It has been reported that dissolved oxygen levels in the water are extremely low, meaning there is limited oxygen for fish to breathe in the water.

Heal the Bay will continue to monitor the situation and will offer updates as it receives more details.

According to Brent Schiewe, director of the SEA Lab, very large schools of baitfish were seen in all the harbor’s basins the day before the fish kill, possibly due to the storm.

Officials with Redondo Beach said the clean-up effort is expected to cost $100,000. Originally crews had been moving the dead fish into the open ocean to let them decompose naturally, but they decided on a more efficient method of removing the fish from the marina and having them sent to be recycled for fertilizer, according to reports.

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