Climate issues mixed with the ongoing drought has reports state that the Chinook salmon population faces serious problems due their high mortality rate of eggs and hatchlings.
- The Chinook salmon population in the Sacramento River stands at 217,000
- Their numbers were at 8.5 million in 2005, and 4.4 million in 2009
- The blame is mainly attributed to the warmer temperatures of the water
- This has led to the death of 95% of eggs and juvenile salmons
An already endangered species might be edging closer to extinction. This is due to the extreme conditions that they are unable to adapt to, and unfortunately insufficient efforts of stopping them. The National Marine Fisheries have reported that the Chinook salmon numbers are still dropping fast.
After observing their population in the Sacramento River, officials came to the results that a whopping 95% of the eggs and hatchlings did not survived in the waters. This is believed to be caused by the warm temperatures, which limited their survival. For the second year in the row, the water supply released by the Shasta Dam had the lukewarm quality that was not beneficial enough for the salmon population.
This could have grave implications regarding their environment, industries, and animals in the ocean that depend on them as a food source. Chinook salmon, otherwise known as king salmon, are typically born in the Sacramento River, make their way to the San Francisco bay, and then further travel to the Pacific Ocean. It takes three years for them to return and spawn.
There are also three types of runs: spring, late fall, and winter (which has been listed as endangered since 1994).
Efforts to help their population bounce back from their collapsing numbers have failed. This included the release of cold water from the dam, to ensure a 56o temperature. Unfortunately, the problem was far from fixed. As a result, the number of hatchlings were 20% less than 2014, even though there were 20% more adults in the river.
The numbers are worrying and may be hinting toward a possible extinction of their species. If compared to past records, it certainly seems to be heading that way. In 2005, there were 8.5 million winter-run juvenile salmons. The river was bursting with them to the point where many jested that fishermen could reach out and grab one with their hands. However, the joke is no longer viable.
In 2009, their numbers dropped to 4.4 million, and this year, 2015, their population stands at a meager just over 217,000. Even though there are two months left, it’s unlikely that those numbers will grow. This has led to demands for better water management, since the drought has been plaguing the region since 2012. Otherwise, their effect would roll down from affecting farmers, fisheries, environmentalists, and other forms of marine life.