A "catastrophic failure" caused the death of around 21,000 fish at a research facility this week, officials at the University of California, Davis, say. University spokesperson Andy Fell says the "devastating loss" was discovered Tuesday morning at an outdoor facility at the UC Davis Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture, the Los Angeles Times reports. Fell says the fish died of chlorine exposure and only a "handful" survived.
Fell says the university has launched an investigation and will review procedures at other facilities where chlorine is used. The fish, which were bred on-site, were used for research including investigations into "bioenergetics and environmental stressors on fish species, which included green and white sturgeon, as well as endangered Chinook salmon," the university said, per the San Francisco Chronicle.
"We share the grief of the faculty, staff and students who worked to care for, study and conserve these animals," the university said in a statement. "The people who conduct and support the research at this facility are conservationists, ecologists, and veterinarians whose life work is devoted to understanding and supporting these species. We recognize that this loss is particularly devastating to our community." (More UC Davis stories.)