Endangered salmon population in California plummets

January 5, 2023


Dams, drought, extreme heat, wildfires and other conditions have pushed California’s winter-run Chinook salmon to the brink of extinction. But, the winter-run Chinook salmon are now faced with an added threat posed by their hunger for anchovies. [phys.org]

2022 marked the worst spawning season ever for the winter-run Chinook salmon. Researchers suspect that may be the result of salmon feasting too heavily on anchovies, which in turn, is causing a vitamin deficiency.

Anchovies are now swarming the California coast in record numbers. Anchovies carry an enzyme called thiaminase, which breaks down the essential vitamin thiamine, also known as vitamin B1.

In humans, critical deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1, can lead to heart failure and nerve damage. Female salmon that are returning to rivers and streams to spawn can pass on thiamine deficiency to their many hatchlings, which suffer problems swimming and experience high rates of death.

Scientists are trying to determine why the anchovy population has exploded off the California coast and why winter-run Chinook seemingly ignore all other prey.

“The very unusual thing about their diet is that it’s been so focused on anchovies and so lacking in other things that historically they have been found eating,” said Nate Mantua, a fisheries researcher with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz. “It is something we don’t have great information on.”

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I see the usual handwringers have posted, but none have taken into account the drought, and overpopulation of sea lions, elephant seals and harbor seals, nor was the decade long drought mentioned, only “evillll mannnnnnn!”

Drought will lower river and stream levels, making migration difficult if not impossible for many seasons. The seals will kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Salmon every year, and they don’t care about plummeting fish populations.

But it’s always ‘man is bad’ with some folks, despite the fact that “man” has returned habitat and waterways to migrating species, while coexisting with modern needs.

.ALERT, it just rained alot. Atascadero waste management landfill has ruined the water table with cancerous carcinogens. The city is sueing major plastic manufacturers. The dumps runoff goes where? The Salinas, it’s a stones throw away. The city now has to build a massive filter plant; ignoring all ecology which now will get cancer and see declining rates minus global weather changes and drought due to Petro chemicals and LP and Gas. Atascadero doesn’t acknowledge the Salinas as an ecologic entity, entitling private business to continue to polute as we make band aide water filters, while our whole eco system is exposed to PFAS, Round Up, etc. Our county is run by private business. Not ethics. Why not super fund atascadero landfill? Do cancerous beavers or steel head make good babies. Did agent orange cause retardation, disfigurment, cancer, autism; agent orange is = Round up. Why does Waste Management not manage anything and continue to just bury Petro chemicals without any consequence? Then think of Salinas, or the Valley x1000000000000000. Cancer sucks :( beavers are way down the list. People seem to fall out of tall hotels alot on accident If they speak truth. Who is buying who? Who builds the filter plant? Hmm

Cancers do suck. Cancers of the body, and cancers of the soul. You see it all more clearly than the rest. But I suspect you do little more than “inform” us, and prescribe remedies for the less informed to follow. Not that I disagree with your concerns, but the way you address them does very little to bring others to your side or way of thinking. You do this consistently.

Beavers may way down your list, but they’re on it and Frances is DOING something about her convictions.

You imply that someone like Frances, who most likely shares your concerns, is misguided. She is not. You drive away those who actually share your concerns. What do you think you do to those that need to be won over? The answer is very little.

I appreciate people of conviction, no matter their political stripe, because if you want things to change you need be the change instead of telling us to change.

The sixth mass extinction is under way, and, short of serious changes in how humans do business, there just isn’t much we can do. Go to the Valley and see the signs about water. The farmers don’t care, the politicians simply demagogue the issue, and most of us do not want our comfortable lives disrupted. Cattle will survive, but salmon, not so much.

“isn’t much we can do”, yeppin’. To wait for the powers that be is like waiting for bread to mold, i.e., their eventual “solutions” will be self serving at best, public payroll enhancing, expanding the fungus.

What we can do, slim down gov’t, prepare locally for climate extremes, water reservation, conservation and limited growth.

Grow a vegetable garden.

Preservation through dissemination. Plants, being the least mobile, should be disseminated. I got some Chilean Wine Palms. Pick a species to save in YOUR yard.

I planted some milkweed a while ago. Do my part for the monarchs, at least.

The DFG aka Dept of Fish and Game does more than enforce fishing and hunting license or tag checks …DFG is the number one agency used to raid illegal marijuana grows and meth labs etc etc .Grows or labs too close to waterways leaching chemicals and fertilizers into the waterways allows for search warrants to be issued …If a person has ever visited Clearlake,Ca. they have noticed the mass amounts of odd looking algae growths .The waterways and mountains are covered and filled with chemicals and fertilizers from marijuana grows and meth labs etc etc .The DFG will not visit these grows or labs alone , way too dangerous . DFG coordinates with multiple agencies when serving a search warrant. Most Norcal agencies now using drones with cameras for preliminary investigations.Many Norcal rivers exit into the Pacific Ocean that are filled with chemicals and fertilizers .If California had more dams on rivers with fish ladders it would be a win win situation for fish , wildlife and humans

Does anyone know what the Fish and Wildlife gets funded for their operation? They enforce the requirement for licenses to hunt, fish and removal of wildlife but I don’t see them enforcing the environmental impacts that directly impact the fisheries or migratory wildlife. The dynamics is one state agency affecting another, California wants more development and the environmental cottage industry helps with the excuses (mitigation) to make it happen. If there is any plan to protect wildlife, limits are a must. Until this happens, there will be dirt roads and ponds needlessly constructed as though a development entitlement rush in the making. The Fish and Wildlife agency should be ashamed as they could play the same game, pun intended.

Per allgov.com, “Funding for Fish and Wildlife operations comes from approximately 48 different sources, including 27 dedicated accounts within the Fish and Game Preservation Fund. About 16% of the department’s money comes from tax dollars in the state General Fund and about 20% comes from hunting and fishing license fees.”

If one constructs “dirt roads and ponds” without Fish and Wildlife, Regional Water Quality, Army Corp of Engineers, and County approvals, they may be placing themselves in regulatory jeopardy.

Why so many agencies? Can Fish and Wildlife and Regional Water Quality be a single application? Your looking at $25,000 in application fees with all four agencies. Why are the application fees so high? Multiple applications and high fees induces illegal work and are counter productive.


I am very jaded on this subject because I spent allot of money trying to enforcing a trespass, only to have my home vandalized and years of court time to hear the judge say, ” I do not see the Fish and Game in my court room therefore I do not (legal ease)” essentially not present therefore no violations, thence ultimately perfected the gross regulatory violations into an adjudicated prescriptive easement.

In this life experience I had my ass handed to me, Ream’d with the boot marks from the commingled law enforcement club. I know the pain and remember the words of the Fish and Game officer of that time, “The Fish and Game is not adequately funded for enforcement”.

You can expect the salmon to be diminished and the state tax revenues to grow at their expense.

Jorge, MAY want to research “reverse prescription” and develop a plan with counsel. Got to be careful with easements.

Francesca, This is why rural property owners are hesitant to get involved, beavers or not. No good deed goes unpunished.

We need to restore the BEAVER population to our watershed areas A.S.A.P. They do tremendous work to alleviate drought, help prevent floods, create excellent firebreaks and refuges, restore and recharge watersheds by slowing, spreading and sinking water flow, and they build the most awesomely biodiverse riparian areas with their activities. And best of all, they work for free!

There are many modern methods to remediate any nuisance behaviors and monitoring them to keep them manageable is far, far cheaper than desalination or just about any other method of increasing our water supply. Check out the SLO BEAVER BRIGADE. There is even a wealth of state funding available for this project and the preexisting law against moving beavers has been changed to allow relocation. No other action would help restore our salmon and steelhead populations better or faster than actually working with Nature and restoring these keystone creatures to their former natural habitat.

There is a very healthy beaver population in the Salinas River, just to the north. Why? Monterey county manages the the local reservoirs outflow to recharge the basin to prevent salt water intrusion in the Salinas valley. A small steady release of water from Santa Margarita during dry season would do the trick for SLO. They would arrive on their own during winter months as the river is flowing now. They would trap water in summer and recharge our local basin.

The bald eagles would join them soon after. Elk too.

Interesting point, makes sense, but I am a little skeptical. Anecdotally I can tell you that growing up in coastal California, and having spent a great deal of time gunk-holing and fishing in creeks and various watersheds (SLO, Monterey,& SB Counties) as a kid and teen, since the mid 1960’s, I have never seen a beaver. I do recall huge and healthy steelhead trout numbers, and other fauna that is near extinction today, red legged frog, western pond turtle, newts, crayfish, etc… But never once in all of those experiences did I see a beaver. Maybe they were already gone by that point?

Little known fact; Beavers are rarely seen in the light of day.


You guessed it. By the time you were fishing and whatever in the creeks, the beavers had just about all been removed by either Fish and Game, as it was called at the time, or by the local landowners. They were considered an impediment to “development”. The current technology for remediating some of their habits that can become a nuisance did not exist. It was considered “open season” on removing them by any means necessary, which always meant their death. However, your experience of healthy salmon populations and other biodiversity was accurate, as it took decades for them to fully succumb to the environmental degradation that ensued following the removal of our watershed’s chief engineers. That removal has led to the diminishment of all the riparian environments and the biodiversity they formerly supported by their work.

Back in the pioneer days, there were about 600 million beavers across the west. Their pelts were worth big money at that time for hats. In an effort to discourage new populations from moving in from the east, those here slaughtered most of that population of animals. This was short-sighted and an unimaginable environmental crime, which has changed the west in a profound way and not for the good when it comes to water availability and biodiversity. IMHO, if we do not reverse this drastic human error in judgement, we are going to suffer extreme consequences in this era of climate change. We are already seeing that come to pass.

I have spoken with several of the landowners in the watershed area above Cambria, and all that I have contacted personally are in favor of this restoration. I am sure there are skeptics up there, but I think they would eventually be won over. One third of the water would benefit them directly. One third would evaporate and help prevent fire and one third would go into our aquifers and keep them charged year ’round. Win-win-win.