Earlier this year, in "On California’s Coast, Farewell to the King Salmon," our staff writer, Abigail Tucker, immersed herself and us in the lives of chinook salmon. I asked her to take a look at the results of a new study from the November issue of Ecological Applications that examined the consequences of a common fisheries management practice: “helping” juvenile fish navigate dangerous dams by carting them downstream. Here’s her take:
You know how wildlife managers ship barge loads of baby salmon down the rivers of the Pacific Northwest every year? Maybe that isn’t such a good idea. Though the shipping is meant to bypass dam turbines that kill huge numbers of juveniles, this paper suggests that the transported fish have a tough time finding their way back up river as spawning adults. They can’t seem to find the way home if they’ve never traveled the path that would get them there. None of this bodes well for the millions of tiny California chinooks that were piped into trucks and driven to the sea this summer. How will they migrate in a few years, unless they sprout thumbs and hitchhike?