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Fish valued at $1,000 stolen from outdoor teaching aquarium

By Sandy Sand     Dec 23, 2009 in Crime
Fish stolen: Prank? Hungry thief? Vandalism? Those questions remain as officials investigate the disappearance of two halibut and 20 spiny lobsters from the Sea Lab outdoor teaching aquarium in Redondo Beach.
The Southern California aquarium is known as an educational facility as well as the first to successfully breed halibut in captivity. Approximately 20,000 children visit the aquarium each year, and occasionally get to touch the fish, Brent Scheiwe, SEA Lab program director said.
This is the second time in 10 years such a theft has occurred. Scheiwe said. Once before someone scaled the fence and speared a halibut. He was later caught.
Scheiwe said he suspects someone used a net or fish as bait to lure the halibut since a dead fish was found on the ground by the tank as well a pool of blood, possibly from an injured fish.
He speculated that the theft was not the work of vandals or the object of a prank, but a direct target on the aquarium.
"They saw what they wanted and came back and took it," he said.
Other outdoor tanks containing rays, eels and a moray eel were left untouched.
California spiny lobster differ from their East Coast cousins in the they have small pincers, making them easy to grab. The largest lobster taken was about 12-inches in length.
Fifteen dollars a pound is the going rate for halibut sold in stores, and at most the stolen catch is worth about $1,000, Scheiwe said.
"These are much more valuable as an educational tool," he said. "This person, by removing the halibut, has removed that experience from thousands of people. It was just one person's selfish needs. I can't comprehend it."
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