Foods & Culinary

California’s extreme heat could bring Chinook salmon closer to the edge of extinction

A brutal heat wave that has punished the western and southwestern United States could kill nearly all young chinook salmon in the Sacramento River and bring the critically endangered fish even closer to extinction, according to officials from the California Department of Fish and Sea Wildlife. How reported until Sacramento bee, officials warned this week that recent and sustained temperatures above 100 degrees Celsius are making the Sacramento River – one of the paths the fish cross after hatching on their way west to the Pacific Ocean – uninhabitable to the fish. This could mean the death of “almost all” young fish in the river this season bee reported.

The potentially bleak outlook for salmon gives an idea of ​​how the effects of rising temperatures and prolonged drought are spreading across the state. “It’s an extreme series of cascading climate events that is pushing us into this crisis situation,” Jordan Traverso, deputy director of communications, education and outreach for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, emailed Eater on Wednesday.

Large parts of California, including much of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, have been hit by the most extreme drought US drought monitor. Newly hatched salmon usually cannot survive when water temperatures are above 56 degrees; the US Bureau of Reclamation is supposed to keep enough water in Shasta Lake so that it doesn’t boil the baby fish when released. But loud bee, so much water has already been given to the farmers that there is not enough left to keep the river cool for the salmon.

The loss of a year in young salmon could have permanent and critical effects on the future of the species. Because the salmon has an average lifespan of three years, losing this year’s young salmon “greatly increases the risk of extinction for the species,” said Doug Obegi, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council bee.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has already taken some steps to counter the effects of rising water temperatures. Traverso said that millions of Chinook salmon from hatcheries were trucked to San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay, and marine cages to “ensure the best possible survival for the young salmon on their dangerous journey into the Pacific Ocean. ”

But the threat to this young salmon also underscores the need for Californians to voluntarily reduce their water use as much as possible, he added – “every drop counts”.

Chinook salmon deliver $ 1.4 billion in economic value in the state of California and support 23,000 jobs across the state, according to the Golden State Salmon Association.

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