With California facing one of the worst drought years in its history, many more salmon will be traveling to the Pacific Ocean by truck this year. Waterways that young Chinook salmon would normally use to migrate have dried up and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to save the species by trucking around 17 million young salmon from hatcheries to be released into the San Francisco Bay, CBS News reports. With much of the salmon's habitat destroyed by damming, the trucking operations are not new, but around 20% more salmon will be transported by tanker this year in a total of 146 temperature-controlled loads, reports the Guardian.
"Trucking young salmon to downstream release sites has proven to be one of the best ways to increase survival to the ocean during dry conditions," North Central Region Hatchery Supervisor Jason Julienne said in a statement, citing lessons learned from the last drought. Authorities say the operation will cost more than $800,000, but it could help save thousands of jobs in the fishing industry. "In the short term, this gives us hope. And we're happy that they're moving these fish," says John McManus, president of the Golden State Salmon Association, which represents fishermen and other groups. "But it's also a very sad testament to what's happening with our rivers in the middle of this state." (More California stories.)