2018: The Long, Steady, Decline in Salmon Populations Continues

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 26 September 2018


The Long, Steady, Decline in Salmon Populations Continues

Threatened spring-run chinook salmon are sparse this year,
Chico Enterprise-Record, September 26, 2018.

Main Points

"In Butte Creek, a snorkel survey counted 2,118 fish this year."

"That’s less than half the average since 1989 of 4,427 fish."

"In 2017, only 950 fish were counted."

"The record was in 2001, when the carcass survey turned up 18,312 fish."

The carcass survey

"As a result of the lifecycle, the creeks are full of dead fish after the spawning cycle ends."

"The dead fish are also easy to count."

"...in years when there are a lot of fish, the carcass count is far more accurate than the snorkel count. But in a low year like this one, the snorkel count is probably pretty accurate."

Fish History

"The spring-run used to be the largest of the chinook runs in the Central Valley. But construction of dams like Shasta and Oroville blocked access to the higher-elevation cool water the fish need to survive the summer, and the numbers dropped."

"The spring-run is now listed as threatened on both the state and federal endangered species lists."

Deer & Mill Creeks

"...this year, their numbers are terribly low."


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weak, sparse, Spring 2018 Chinook Salmon run


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