The UC Davis research boat heads in to Cache slough, in the Bay Delta. Cache Slough has been known as a hotspot for delta smelt.
“It’s funny, because the smelt are a small fish, and now they’re a rare fish, but they still loom large over all our environmental and water policies,”
An otter trawl net is cast into the Cache slough in search of Delta smelt. But it’s been four years since the research team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, have found the finger-length fish that gleam golden and “smell kind of like cucumber” in the brackish streams and sloughs of northern California’s bay delta.
Caroline holds on to her hat as the research boat moves locations.
Caroline on of the graduate student helping with the research checks and identifies fish. For California farmers with thousands of acres to irrigate and millions of dollars on the line, the smelt are in the way – the statelisted the species as endangered in 2009, and in effect constrained how much water can be pulled from the delta.
A juvenile bluegill sunfish is measured and recorded.
The northern California delta is home to many species of fish.
Dragging a net and recording the position researching compare years of dates to help evaluate the delta's health.
Soon after UC Davis researchers first began sampling in the delta, nearly 40 years ago, the delta smelt populations suffered a huge blow: their numbers had suddenly declined by more than 80%. Their numbers dipped even lower after a period of extended drought in the late 80s and early 90s, then lower still during California’s most recent drought, which lasted from 2012 through 2016. During these dry spells, California’s cities and farms needed to pump more and more delta water – leaving these fish without enough fresh, cold water to survive.
A large catfish has be caught, an invasive spices to the Delta.
Teejay and Chris gather the nets, ready to move on to a new place to sample.
Suisun marsh, one of the largest brackish water marsh on west coast of the United States of America. The marsh land is part of the San Francisco Bay tidal estuary, and subject to tidal ebb and flood .
A striped bass stomach gets emptied to check on what it has been eating and seeing if there is any smelts in it diet.
A bass has been caught.
All fish are measured and recorded and logged.
Fishing is a popular recreational activity along the delta’s complex maze of sloughs and rivers.
A shallow catches a ride crosses on the Steamboat Slough ferry in the Sacramento Delta, connecting Grand Island to East Ryer Island.
The American flag blows in the wind on board the ferry. One of the few ferry's left connecting islands, in the part of the delta.
The sunset over the Sacramento River in walnut grove.
'Stop the tunnels' has been left on the tree as many residence in the delta are opposed to the delta water tunnel project. That would take water from the Sacramento river under the delta in to Clifton court up to Bank pumping facility bringing water to southern California.
"Because most Delta smelt live for just one year, even temporary environmental changes can decimate the population. It’s not just the overpumping, but the pumps themselves that have strained the smelt"
from The Guardian " For conservationists and ecologists like Durand, the delta smelt are harbingers, their diminishing numbers a signal that the delta’s ecosystem is dangerously close to collapse. For California farmers with thousands of acres to irrigate and millions of dollars on the line, the smelt are in the way – the statelisted the species as endangered in 2009, and in effect constrained how much water can be pulled from the delta. Now, the creatures caught in the crossfire of the state’s water wars have all but disappeared, and biologists worry that newly empowered forces within the Trump administration could usher them into oblivion
from The Guardian " For conservationists and ecologists like Durand, the delta smelt are harbingers, their diminishing numbers a signal that the delta’s ecosystem is dangerously close to collapse. For California farmers with thousands of acres ...