Mette Lampcov is a freelance documentary photographer from Denmark and is currently based in the greater Los Angeles area. She studied fine art in London, England and after moving to the United States 10 years ago, studied photography and...
An otter trawl net is cast into the Cache slough in search of Delta smelt. But it’s been four years since the research team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, have found the finger-length fish that gleam golden and “smell kind of like cucumber” in the brackish streams and sloughs of northern California’s bay delta.
Caroline on of the graduate student helping with the research checks and identifies fish. For California farmers with thousands of acres to irrigate and millions of dollars on the line, the smelt are in the way – the statelisted the species as endangered in 2009, and in effect constrained how much water can be pulled from the delta.
Dragging a net and recording the position researching compare years of dates to help evaluate the delta's health.
Soon after UC Davis researchers first began sampling in the delta, nearly 40 years ago, the delta smelt populations suffered a huge blow: their numbers had suddenly declined by more than 80%. Their numbers dipped even lower after a period of extended drought in the late 80s and early 90s, then lower still during California’s most recent drought, which lasted from 2012 through 2016. During these dry spells, California’s cities and farms needed to pump more and more delta water – leaving these fish without enough fresh, cold water to survive.
'Stop the tunnels' has been left on the tree as many residence in the delta are opposed to the delta water tunnel project. That would take water from the Sacramento river under the delta in to Clifton court up to Bank pumping facility bringing water to southern California.
"Because most Delta smelt live for just one year, even temporary environmental changes can decimate the population. It’s not just the overpumping, but the pumps themselves that have strained the smelt"
from The Guardian " For conservationists and ecologists like Durand, the delta smelt are harbingers, their diminishing numbers a signal that the delta’s ecosystem is dangerously close to collapse. For California farmers with thousands of acres to irrigate and millions of dollars on the line, the smelt are in the way – the statelisted the species as endangered in 2009, and in effect constrained how much water can be pulled from the delta. Now, the creatures caught in the crossfire of the state’s water wars have all but disappeared, and biologists worry that newly empowered forces within the Trump administration could usher them into oblivion