Nightly News   |  March 25, 2014

Lower Water Levels Threaten Salmon Survival

The drought has had a big impact on the reservoirs and streams in northern California where salmon rely on deep water to swim to the sea.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> our final story here tonight is about a rescue mission underway in california, in the midst of the history making drought that has left rivers so low that tens of millions of salmon are having trouble getting to where they need to be this time of year. that's where something called the water taxi comes, in we get the story tonight from nbc's harry smith .

>> reporter: in northern california this spring, there's snow in the high country . it's only a quarter of what it ought to be. these seasons of drought have left reservoirs and streams way below normal. where there's not enough water, means trouble, especially if you're a fish.

>> fish need water, when there's no water there are severe consequences to our fishery population.

>> reporter: early this morning, tanker trucks began filling up at the coleman national fish hatchery near anderson. filling up with salmon.

>> in order to give them a better chance to hit the ocean and survive, we're putting them into trucks and driving them about 275 to 300 miles past a lot of the problems that are currently in river.

>> reporter: the salmon are about six months old, the result of last year's spawning season. their very survival requires deep enough water to swim to sea. without that this year, u.s. and california fisheries don't want to take the risk. so the chinook salmon won't swim, they'll get a ride to san francisco bay . once here, the fish will acclimate for a while, then be set free. water is one of those things we take for granted. fish do too. giving 30 million salmon a lift is probably the least we could do. harry smith , nbc