Sardine-like fish that spend most of their lives in the ocean were sucked by the thousands into the south Delta export pumps near Tracy this spring.
While your life might not hinge on the wellbeing of Pacific herring, their presence deep in the Delta is evidence that the estuary is becoming saltier, which could be bad news for farmers if the drought persists.
Saltwater from San Francisco Bay is creeping farther than usual into the Delta this year because there has been little runoff from the mountains to keep the estuary fresh.
A total of 1,780 Pacific herring were entrained at the giant pumps, the most since the drought of 1976-77, said Carl Wilcox, a Delta policy advisor for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"In all likelihood it's just a factor of the low outflow," Wilcox said.
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