The Delta Smelt, a two-inch fish caught in California’s war over water is on the verge of extinction. A recent state survey conducted over the course of four months in more than 100 sites from San Francisco Bay to the Delta, has revealed a 99 percent decline in the surveyed population.
In a report by the Santa Cruz Sentinel, scientists described that they were optimistic for the population’s rebound after the last winter’s rains pushed more water through the rivers, sloughs, and bays where the fish live. “This should have been the year of recovery…no such luck,” said Peter Moyle, a University of California, Davis professor and expert on California’s native fish populations. “Delta smelt may be so scarce that adults have a hard time finding one another to spawn, especially in a year with lots of water.”
Environmentalists believe that years of repeated withdrawals of water upstream from the Delta have played the largest role in the overall demise of the species. These conditions were only exacerbated during the most recent drought, when already low flows were made even lower by state officials siphoning more water from the Delta to be put into reservoirs.
Speaking with Recordnet, Doug Obegi, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the state and federal water policies over the years have caused cumulative harm to the species. “It’s the old death by a thousand cuts. Even in years like this, when we should be providing better conditions for fish, the agencies still cut corners.”
 Hiltzik, Michael. The delta smelt heads for extinction, marking a half-century of failed California water policy. January 5, 2018. Web.
 Cuff, Denis. Hopes for Delta smelt rebound dashed by record-low survey. January 6, 2018. Web. http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20180106/NEWS/180109798
 Breitler, Alex. Delta fish is going, going…. December 28, 2017. Web. http://www.recordnet.com/news/20171228/delta-fish-is-going-going-
 Breitler. Delta fish is going, going…. http://www.recordnet.com/news/20171228/delta-fish-is-going-going-
Picture Reference: Flickr, Pacific Southwest Region USFW