800,000 Fish Die of Gas Bubble Disease in California

(PatriotWise.com) — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said on Saturday that about 830,000 Chinook salmon that were released into the Klamath River in Northern California were presumed to have died from gas bubble disease, NBC News reported.

In a March 2 news release, Fish and Wildlife said 830,000 salmon in the fry stage (approximately 1-2 inches in length) were released in the Fall Creek tributary of the Klamath on Monday, February 26.

The salmon were hatched at Fish and Wildlife’s new Fall Creek Fish Hatchery, a $35 million project to boost salmon populations in the Klamath once its four dams are removed.

Gas bubble disease is caused by severe pressure changes, which lead to physical trauma. According to Fish and Wildlife, gas bubble disease likely afflicted the salmon fry as they were migrating through the tunnel at Iron Gate Dam.

Iron Gate Dam and the tunnel are both scheduled to be removed later this year.

According to Fish and Wildlife, there was nothing to indicate that the water quality in the Klamath River caused the mass deaths of the salmon fry. A visual inspection of the dead salmon detected by Fish and Wildlife’s monitoring equipment pointed to gas bubble disease.

A spokesperson for Fish and Wildlife said it was not clear how many of the 830,000 salmon released had died, but indications were that it was a “high mortality rate.”

The nearly 270-mile Klamath River runs from Oregon into Northern California. The dam removal project on the Klamath began in 2023 with the removal of the smallest of its four dams.

Initially constructed to generate electricity, the dams have disrupted the salmon lifecycle in the Klamath, which was once the third-largest salmon-producing river in the West.

In 2002, more than 34,000 salmon were killed after warm temperatures combined with low water levels caused a bacterial outbreak among the salmon. The mass deaths prompted Native tribes to campaign for the removal of the four dams.

Federal regulators approved a plan in 2022 to remove the dams.

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