Experimental Release of Cultured Delta Smelt

Author: Junior Specialist Theo Claire

Over the past several months, the Fish Conservation Physiology Lab has designed and deployed enclosures for a new method of releasing cultured delta smelt into the wild. The enclosures allowed the smelt to acclimate to conditions in the Sacramento River prior to release, which we hope will increase the long term survival of the fish. This experimental release of cultured delta smelt is the first ever release of delta smelt into the wild, and was a collaboration with the Interagency Ecological Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Bureau of Reclamation, CA Department of Water Resources, CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Geological Survey, and the UC Davis Fish Conservation and Culture Laboratory. In total, over 50,000 smelt were released between December 2021 and February 2022!