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A 26-foot boat operated by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro capsized about 11 a.m. Thursday, June 27, 2019, off the coast of Malaga Cover in Palos Verdes while it was assisting the Redondo Beach SEA Lab to release fish. The boat is seen here at the boat hoist in King Harbor Marina, where it was towed. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Rendell)

Five volunteers fell overboard off the coast of Palos Verdes Estates this week while releasing fish for Redondo Beach’s soon-to-close SEA Lab aquarium, officials said.

No one was injured and the fish were all successfully released, said Ed Mastro, exhibit director for Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, which owns the boat.

Cabrillo — based in San Pedro and part of the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks — is investigating the incident.

The volunteers, on behalf of SEA Lab, were releasing various fish into the ocean, including a giant sea bass, around 11 a.m. Thursday, June 27. But uneven weight distribution apparently caused the 26-foot Radon power boat to flip over just off the coast of Malaga Cove, Mastro said.

A Redondo Beach Harbor Patrol boat, already on scene observing the fish release, helped get the volunteers out of the water, Mastro said. The Harbor Patrol then towed the still-capsized boat back to the marina.

Mastro said he hopes the boat will be salvaged.

The SEA Lab released the fish as it prepares to close at the end of the month after more than 20 years in Redondo Beach. The adjacent white sea bass grow-out released its final batch of fish last weekend. 

“All in all what could have been a complete disaster ended up OK,” Mastro said Friday, June 28. “It was a great day for the ocean because the fish got released but it was not the best day for the aquarium.

“I think somebody lost a cell phone,” he added. “If that’s the worst that happened, then we can live with that.”

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