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Environment & Science

Gnarly ocean odor prompts swell of emergency calls

Graham Smith via Flickr Creative Commons

As L.A. and Santa Monica fire department officials fielded calls Sunday about a foul odor — a  smell they believed to be an ocean-based offender  making its way from Santa Monica Bay — the ripe reaction was being casually logged in the permanent record of social media.

" Specific information about the odor falls within the expertise of  regional air quality officials," said LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey who said the South Coast Air Quality Control District determined that the odor was a natural occurrence.

Santa Monica fire haz-mat crews detected unusual concentrations of odorless methane gas in the air that they believed to be coming from either a patch of pungent algae or a sulfurous gas-laced methane bubble, said a dispatcher.

That may night be the case, however. Sam Atwood, a spokesman for the Air Quality Management District (AQMD), said his agency has not confirmed the Santa Monica Fire Department's theory.

Last September's far reaching, near retching  sulfurous stench — noticed from Indio to the San Fernando Valley — was traced back to a biological occurrence on the landlocked Salton Sea.