Haunting piece in the Washington Post about the ongoing salmon crisis in California’s river systems. This lengthy story focused on Butte Creek, a critical spawning tributary of the Sacramento River, where rising water temperatures have seen a massive die-off of spring Chinook.
From the Post report:
For centuries, spring-run Chinook salmon, among California’s most iconic fish, would rest for weeks in these historically cold waters after their brutal upstream journey. Then they would lay eggs and, finally, perish to complete one of nature’s most improbable life cycles.
No longer. What once was a place where life began is now one of untimely death.
The creek is simply too warm, an astounding 10 degrees warmer than average in some parts of these spawning grounds. It is the result of the creek’s low flow, which speeds up the spread of disease as the water stagnates, and of the Central Valley’s high heat in the depths of drought.
Of the estimated 16,000 spring-run Chinook that made the journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to this curve in a creek and others like it across the Central Valley, about 14,500 have died, nearly all of them before spawning. More will succumb in the next few weeks, and a year of spring-run Chinook reproduction will be lost in the valley’s hot, low-flow waterways. The conditions are threatening the winter migration, or “run,” just as severely. And while it is still too early to measure the drought’s effect on a pair of fall migrations, experts are worried it could be just as disastrous.
And here’s one tweet that sums up what the fish are enduring right now.