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2nd Disastrous Drought Year For Endangered California Salmon

Regents of the University of California

Regents of the University of California

Efforts to help protect endangered Chinook salmon from death in the Sacramento River apparently didn't work last year.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says the survival rate was in the low single-digits. 

Once again, the drought gets the blame. In the summer months, salmon eggs and fry need the cooler water that's the norm most years in the upper Sacramento River. They spend the first part of their lives there.

But shallow water gets warmer faster, and in 2015, efforts to keep the river cooler failed. The Fisheries Service says the salmon egg and fry survival rate was just 3 percent.

In normal years, releases from Lake Shasta help keep the river cool enough to assure salmon survival. Last year, there wasn't enough cold water in the dam to cool the river, so the eggs and juvenile fish were effectively poached.

2015 was the second year in row of high salmon mortality in high river temperatures.

In 2011, when there was enough cold water, the winter-run Chinook survival rate was 41 percent.

(AP) - An endangered native salmon has suffered a second disastrous year in California's drought.

Fisheries officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday that just 3 percent of the latest generation of winter-run Chinook salmon survived last year. That's even worse than the 5 percent survival rate for the juvenile salmon the year before and more than 10 times worse than just before the drought.

NOAA fisheries assistant regional administrator Maria Rea said authorities were unable to keep enough water flowing out of Shasta Lake to keep temperatures cool enough for the salmon. The issue is a hot one in the state, with farmers and their supporters regularly disputing with fishermen and environmental groups over fair shares of water allocation.

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