Just days after decomposing squid washed up on the beaches near Tofino, B.C., hundreds of dead pilchard and herring came in with the high tide along the same beaches.

Many of the fish, averaging 15 to 20 centimetres long, were scattered around and even upon the decomposing squid.

Local biologist Josie Osborne, of the Raincoast Education Society, was out collecting samples and said thousands of fish have likely washed ashore along the local beaches.

Osborne said the fish could have died from a disease or from low oxygen content in the water.

"I'm going to send some samples into DFO (Fisheries and Oceans) and they will tell us," she said.

The fish began washing ashore Tuesday night.

A woman who owns a local bed and breakfast counted nearly 1,000 dead fish along one stretch of beach.

By Wednesday morning, Osborne was out collecting fresh samples -- samples she used in a dinner experiment.

"This is a really unique event," said Osborne. "I think it's one of those really neat natural phenomenon that shows us how much we don't know about the ocean."

On Monday, dozens of Humboldt squid washed up on the same stretch of beach.

Osborne said the squid likely died after they hit colder water or stronger currents while chasing prey.

Tony Pitcher, an expert in marine biology at the University of British Columbia, said he can't speculate on what exactly killed the fish or the squid, but said it would be unlikely the two incidents would be related.

"The things that would kill squid are not necessarily the kinds of things that would kill herring and pilchard," said Pitcher.

Pitcher said it's not particularly abnormal for groups of marine animals to die and wash ashore.

"Fish mortalities are not unusual on a coast where there's a steep shelf, so things can get at the wrong place in the wrong time," he said.

"Unless it's happening with some regularity."