Why the Scientists Say Delta Smelt Population Improved Slightly this Year

As Matt Weiser of the Sacramento Bee reported last week, Delta Smelt populations have rebounded this year but are a long way from full health and are still at risk of extinction. 

Marty Gingras, Supervising Biologist at the California Department of Fish and Game, provided the following explanation in regards to the Smelt population rebound, “Young Delta smelt abundance this year roughly doubled when compared to last year but is a small fraction of their historical abundance. The improvement is likely due in large part to higher than usual flows from the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers this year which resulted in better habitat conditions and water quality.”

In wet years, such as this one, fish can survive even with relatively high amounts of pumping from the Delta. However, this also demonstrates that in average and drier years the fish need more water. What a surprise.