San Lorenzo River steelhead update…

Good Morning to you Nature Enjoyers,

breaching action…

You won’t believe what my eyes saw again!! At 6:40 am last Saturday 3 men were hectically digging a trench, trying to breach the river mouth that had closed 2 days ago. One of the shoreline fishermen was yelling at them and I chimed in with a furious “NO BREACHING!!!”. The men’s heads snapped up to the river point, where I was floating in a cloud of anguish for the fish’s safety. Any summer lagoon breaching is bad for the steelhead and the sudden artificial breaching is particularly harmful: The water literally gets sucked out of the river and the fish get stranded on the rocks and shores. The ones that avoid that fate get sucked out to the ocean, where many are unable to survive. The reason being is that that steelhead have to transition from freshwater to saltwater over time. Therefore the abrupt breaching denies them to acclimatize naturally to saltwater. Furthermore the saltwater rushes in and displaces the slow downstream freshwater flow, impacting the water conditions for the steelhead still moving downstream. Click HERE for further info. and keep your fingers crossed for the steelhead welfare.

fish tail rings…

Fish are jumping and the water is low~went through my head as I was watching the many silver darts exploding out of the water. The little fish bodies pierce the water surface straight up, arch gracefully and dive back in, leaving their ‘fish rings’ to tell their tail tale. The City Biologists have been seining the San Lorenzo River for the last 3 months and experience has taught me that these summer months will deliver the steelhead numbers. So I turn into fish Pavlov dog at t his time of year, salivating for any fish news morsels I can devour. Of course I would love to join the biologists as they count, measure, clip the fins of the steelhead. I tried that a few times and learned that was a really bad idea. So instead I pestered the Chris Berry, the Watershed Manager of the Santa Cruz City Water Dept., and his crew, who patiently indulge me with fish news via e-mail. I found out that June had a lot of juvenile steelhead in the SLR lagoon, which didn’t hold true for July.

steelhead make my heart sing…

August was a steelhead bonanza that included some very small young-of the-year steelhead, which is unusual. This sometimes happens, because they may have been fish that came from the late run spawners, implying that spawning occurred in May of this year. Although this year’s river hydrology was pretty atypical, it is very good for anadromous salmonids like steelhead. The reason that the water quality and flow are good this year is due to the frequent, moderate precipitation events this winter and late spring rain in particular. So far the water condition has remained good, because the cold temperature dissolves the oxygen well. It will be interesting to see how the water condition changes as the swell picks up and the river flow drops off through the rest of the dry season.
Now the waiting begins for the release of the final yearly report, which takes place after all the reported details have been vetted that were submitted in July.

Biologist carefully returning counted fish to the river…

Last week I was intensely absorbed, watching, who I think, was the only remaining CLIFF SWALLOW at the Riverside Ave. bridge. It flew to nest, deposited food quickly, dashed back into the sky, almost immediately returned with more food supply. It was truly astounding to watch that little bird speed feed the late hatched offspring. All the other CLIFF SWALLOWS had left in stages approx. 2 weeks ago. This year the CLIFF SWALLOWS arrived in 2 separate batches at different times. Consequently some of them started building their nests when the others had already completed theirs.

last CLIFF SWALLOW at Riverside Ave. bridge…

So this last migrant parent was ultra busy getting the kid(s?) on the sky road and it looks like the effort paid off, because now no CLIFF SWALLOW is gracing the air anymore until next spring. Soon our winter migratory guests will turn the page on the next river life chapter and I am eager to see that story unfold.
River greetings to you all, jane

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