Feb 4, 2015 11:31 PM by Charlene Cheng
As the sun set over Redding, 204,000 endangered winter-run juvenile Chinook salmon jumped into the water off of Caldwell Park, to start their migration from the Sacramento River to the Pacific Ocean.
Another two groups will be released in the following days, resulting in a total of 600,000 salmon.
That's over triple the size of the usual release for this time of year.
"The drought has wreaked havoc on the watershed on the Sacramento River and the salmon habitat. We can't release more water, we can hope for rain, we can't damage the river, so the only thing we can do to try to get the fish to come back is to put more fish in there now," said Andrew Hughan, Public Information Officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Up to now, these young salmon have spent their entire lives at the Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery.
They were hatched six months ago and are now about four inches long.
Officials took action early, collecting additional return salmon to increase the number of young.
"They're estimating that only 5% of the river that spawned in the river survived. In a normal year that number would be closer to 25%, so we're hoping to jump start the population with our release from the hatchery today," Assistant Hatchery Manager John Rueth said.
This is now the second consecutive year that winter-run salmon have experienced poor survival.
A third year could be crippling for the population.
"99% of the fish will die in the next three years. So we have to put in as many fish as we possibly can, because we have to save the species. It's a lifeboat for the winter-run Chinook salmon. It's a huge deal. We must do this," Hughan said.
2 days ago