Chinook Salmon On The Verge Of Extinction: Extreme Heat In California To Blame

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Rising temperatures due to the heatwave in the western US are harming the Chinook salmon population in the Sacramento River. The brutal heat could sound the death knell of the young Chinook salmon still remaining in the river and push the already endangered species nearer to extinction.

Officials of the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife in California said that these continuous high temperatures that have regularly strayed across 100F are turning the Sacramento River uninhabitable for the fish which swim out west to the Pacific after hatching.

The death of the juvenile Chinook salmon is just one indicator of the havoc that climate change is causing to the planet. The cascading tragic events don’t appear to have an end and are leading to a major crisis.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and other parts of California and other western states in the US are in the grip of a severe and prolonged drought.

Plummeting Water Levels Are Making The Waters Too Hot For The Chinook Salmon

chinook salmon

Hatchlings of the Chinook salmon cannot survive at temperatures beyond 56F. water held back in the Shasta Lake normally provides the right temperatures for the Chinook salmon to survive. But the water level has plummeted to record lows and there is not enough in the lake to protect the juveniles.

The fishery department has tried artificial means by transporting millions of Chinook salmon raised in hatcheries to the San Francisco and San Pablo Bay areas, and to seaside pens to ensure their survival.

But artificial means rarely work and it is time Californians heeded the call for a voluntary reduction in water usage, which is among the highest in the world.

Read: California Wildfires Blaze Across The State: Set To Be The Country’s Worst Ever

More water is being diverted to the cities and farmers during the drought making the rivers shallower and too hot for the hatchlings to develop from the eggs, a process that normally takes around 60 days. This loss in their insulation blanket will kill the entire population in the river. It is feared that only a few thousand of the winter-run Chinooks are left and even they could die out if the heatwave persists.

The Chinook salmon brings in $1.4B to California alone every year. 23,000 jobs are dependent on the industry as per figures released by the salmon Association of California.

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