Mystery Solved: It’s Raining Anchovies In San Francisco, And Here’s Why

If you don’t like anchovies on your pizza, better not eat it outside in San Francisco.

The little fish are raining down from the sky in the City by the Bay, and scientists have figured out why. There’s a boom in the coastal anchovy population, and the birds that dine on them while they fly overhead are messy eaters.

“The anchovies are in pretty big numbers right now, and are pretty close to shore,” Whitney Grover, interim deputy director at the Golden Gate Audubon Society, told the SFGate.com. “So we’re experiencing a lot of these seabirds fishing, and then if they fly back over the land on the way to wherever they’re going, sometimes they drop fish.”

The Simulation is definitely breaking down: “Anchovies are reportedly raining from the sky across San Francisco” https://t.co/FEDgRKbttA

— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) June 29, 2022

A Reddit user who goes by sanfrannie posted recently that a dozen anchovies “rained down from the sky” onto a pal’s deck; another reported that they “almost got hit by a fish waiting for a bus,” and still another thought “a band of roving kids were doing a Tik Tok sardine-throwing challenge on a roof somewhere” after seeing fish falling onto the sidewalk, the outlet reported.

Researchers say the burgeoning anchovy population has left birds with more fish than they can eat.

“I heard stories just last week from guys who said that the water out there was just covered with thousands of birds, and the birds were just sitting on the water with anchovies in their mouths because they can’t eat anymore,” Larry Collins, president of the San Francisco Community Fishing Association, told the outlet.

“Good news at least for fans of Caesar salads?!” tweeted Janet Hough.

“Found a pile of anchovies in the park one day,” tweeted Travis Gohr. “Now I know where they came from.”

The boom is apparently due to a phenomenon called “upwelling,” in which cold water packed with nutrients rises to the surface, and attract the junior member of the food chain.

“It’s just totally healthy ocean out there right now. I heard guys telling me about pelicans that, instead of diving to fill their mouths up, they’re just skimming the water and getting full mouths of anchovies,” Collins said.

Those same pelicans are the ones dropping anchovy bombs all over the city.

“I could see them going to Ocean Beach and picking up some anchovies, then flying right over San Francisco and over the Castro to go into the bay,” Grover said.


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