Featured image and video courtesy of Columbia River Keeper
This video was captured at the Little White Salmon River in the Columbia River Gorge on July 16, 2021, by Conrad Gowell for the Columbia River Keeper. It shows the injuries, infections, and overall damage the recent heatwave in the American northwest has done to their wild salmon stocks. Earlier this summer, both Seattle and Portland recorded the highest temperatures ever measured in the cities, and the heat’s effects were just limited to the people that call the region home.
According to the Guardian, “the video was recorded during the heatwave on a day when water temperatures breached 70F (21C), a lethal temperature for these anadromous fish if they are exposed to it for long periods. The Clean Water Act prohibits the Columbia River from rising over 68F (20C).”
Per the Cold Water Act, the Columbia is not to be permitted to rise above 68F, to protect the endangered native fish species that rely on the cold water to survive.
Who’s to blame you ask? Well for this event, in particular, the dams upstream are to blame for the lack of cold water running downstream and to the sea.
To read more about the video and an interview with Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, check out this article in The Guardian.