Fish Are Dying In US Rivers As They Heat Up

We need no one to tell us that global warming is a serious problem. As the water temperatures continue to rise, it creates many problems, including an increase in storms.

One issue that is also being seen in at least one California river is the death of thousands of baby salmon. Those endangered salmon could potentially be wiped out if the trend continues.

When the salmon eventually end up in the Pacific Ocean, they are caught by fishermen who make their living from the catch. As one heatwave after another continues to hit the area, the fish are less likely to finish their journey.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

At this particular time in the Klamath River in northern California, hundreds of thousands of those young salmon are currently dying. This is not only due to higher water temperatures, but the drought has also lowered the water levels and a parasite is thriving as a result of those issues.

Due to the parasite, one Native American tribe is suffering due to a lack of salmon. They have both their traditions and their diet tied to the fish, and the warm water is causing what is being referred to as a “near-complete loss” of the new generation of Chinook salmon.

Photo: flickr/USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

With the loss of a generation of young salmon, the population of salmon overall could be drop significantly. Fishing season could even be canceled as a result, which is yet another devastating effect of global climate change. In California, commercial salmon fishing is a $1.4 billion industry.

One of those fishermen, Mike Hudson, has been making his living for over two decades by selling salmon in Berkeley. According to the New York Post, he just feels that things are going to get worse from this point on, so he is considering hanging it up and selling his boat.

There may be a slight delay in the overall impact of the loss of Chinook salmon this year. They travel hundreds of miles to the Pacific from the Sacramento River and it takes about three years before they grow and return to the Sacramento River again.

Photo: flickr/USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

According to AP News, some predictions think that over 80% of baby salmon born this year could die due to the warmer water in the river where they are hatched. It could even get higher, as the largest reservoir in California is only at 35% capacity.

The effect on the young fish is also being felt on the older fish as well. Some adult fish are dying as a result of the warmer water and are not making the trip to lay their eggs. This could have a cascading effect and leads to a severe crisis.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When you add on top of these problems the drought that they have been going through, it is a perfect storm that could result in a significant loss. This loss may even extend beyond the wild salmon, it could affect other fish as well, including the steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.

Many young Chinook salmon that are born in hatcheries are sometimes released into the wild to help with the overall population of fish. Because of the temperature changes in the water and the low water levels, fish are now being transferred back to hatcheries until conditions on the river improve.

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