Delta smelt population doubles
The endangered Delta smelt population has made strides to recovery, nearly doubling in population over the past year, according to California Department of Fish and Game officials.
That population increase, however, represents a small percentage of its historical population, according to a Wednesday DFG press release.
Since counting the fish to find exact numbers would be nearly impossible, DFG collects smaller samples and counts the number of fish in the samples to get an indication of the larger population.
The average number of young Delta smelt per sample doubled from 3.8 last year to 8.0 this year, but is a far cry from the height of 39.7 in 1999.
Adult Delta smelt also doubled this year, from 0.8 last year to 2.2 this year, with a record high of 62.5 in 1978.
Fish and Game biologists attribute the population increase in the finger-sized fish to protection efforts as well as high river flows this year, and it remains to be seen how many of the young fish will reach adulthood.
The Delta smelt, which have a one-year life cycle, are only found in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. They were listed as threatened in 1993 under state and federal endangered species lists, and as the population continued to dwindle, they were listed as endangered by the state in 2003.
A December survey will provide more information on the impact from the increase in the young Delta smelt population.