Image: Dead fish
Antonio Scorza  /  AFP-Getty Images
Dead fish float in the water at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, early Friday.
updated 2/28/2010 6:23:08 PM ET 2010-02-28T23:23:08

Thousands of dead fish washed up on the shores of a popular beachside lagoon in Rio over the weekend, offending joggers' olfactory senses and leading the city to fight the stench with disinfectant.

The official state news service Agencia Brasil said about 100 city employees working full-time cleared nearly 80 tons of fish as of Sunday. There was no immediate estimate of how many died, but several species were involved.

Rio's environmental secretary speculated that increased levels of a harmful algae may be the immediate cause of the sudden die-off Friday. She told Globo's G1 Web site that authorities were still investigating, but the problem was not affecting the fish anymore.

The smell of rotting fish dampened runners' and cyclists' usual enthusiasm for leisurely jaunts along the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon's paths.

The 2-square-mile body of water is just north of Rio's Ipanema Beach. A canal connects it to the Atlantic.

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