Special Operations for
by Laura Berg
Special operations were continuing in late July on the lower Snake River to save ESA-listed adult sockeye, as 71-degree water in the river--and 4-6 degrees hotter water in fish ladders--appear to have stalled and killed many sockeye expected to pass Lower Granite Dam on their way to the Salmon River's Sawtooth Basin.
Of a projected run size of nearly 4,000 sockeye, fewer than 400 had passed the dam as of July 29.
In response, cold water was being released from Dworshak Dam on the Clearwater River, which has been done in the past. It was extraordinary to trap the few sockeye that had shown up at Lower Granite Dam, from where they were trucked to Eagle Hatchery.
Also unusual was dam operators' suspension of spill at Little Goose Dam during daylight hours for two days over a two-week period to help the migrating adult sockeye.
At a July meeting of the Technical Management Team, some fish managers disagreed with the decision to reduce spill. They were skeptical that the experimental cessation of spill was likely to be beneficial, and expressed concern for downstream-migrating juvenile fall Chinook that depend on spill to get past Little Goose Dam. NOAA Fisheries thought the reduction in spill might have a cooling effect.
At a TMT meeting on July 29, fish managers and dam operators agreed that cold water would continue to be discharged from Dworshak through August, with the exception of Aug. 3, when some repairs were to be made. The goal was to keep river temperatures at 68 degrees.
With permits from NOAA Fisheries, Idaho Fish and Game will continue to collect and transport the endangered sockeye at Lower Granite. Snake River sockeye are nearing the end of this year's upstream migration.The first sockeye to swim on its own (rather than being trucked) arrived in the Sawtooth Basin July 27.
Sockeye Arrives at Stanley Despite Warm Water by Associated Press, Teton Valley News, 7/29/15
Salmon Dying by the Thousands in Hot U.S. Rivers by Ted Ranosa, Tech Times, 7/29/15
First Sockeye of Year Returns to Redfish Creek Despite Hot Rivers by Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman, 7/28/15
Why Are Thousands of Migratory Salmon Dying Before They Can Spawn? by Courtney Sherwood, Christian Science Monitor, 7/27/15
Biologists Bring Sockeye into Idaho on Trucks to Get Them Out of Hot Water by Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman, 7/17/15
Sockeye Salmon Suffer Infections in Warm Columbia River System by Rich Landers, Spokesman-Review, 7/17/15
Half of Columbia River Sockeye Salmon Dying Due to Hot Water by Associated Press, The Oregonian, 7/18/15
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