Sunday, May 27, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on April 16th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 6

Feathers and scales

What’s one fish?

I mean, what’s one measly, floppy, scaly, individual fish?

That thought’s been on my mind ever since I first learned about what’s going on over at Bradbury Dam, as highlighted in this week’s cover story.

Actually, it’s more like what’s not going on over at Bradbury Dam.

Or, even more accurately—and to remove a few words—I’ve been thinking about what’s not going over Bradbury Dam.


Specifically, steelhead. The spawning masses used to work their way up the various creeks and waterways in the county to lay their eggs and replenish the population, but they’ve found their path blocked by a big barrier since the early ’50s. Not to date myself (or de-date myself, I suppose), but that’s before my time. Was the dam necessary back then? It had to be, right? Otherwise the builders wouldn’t have built it.

Were the fish necessary back then? Well, yeah. Otherwise they wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have in this environment. But cut to today, and the steelhead numbers have dropped to the point that they’re endangered.

Now here’s the red meat of this column about fish: A lot of you, I’ll wager, rolled your eyes at the mere mention of the word “endangered.” Some of you hate that designation because it translates to permit delays or zoning restrictions or other regulations. It comes across as overused, slapped onto everything from amphibians to large mammals to some of my fine, feathered cousins. There are even endangered plants.

These animals and plants are endangered because people don’t see them as necessary. Not in this world.

The current pumping system at the dam is flawed, and its flaws are taking a toll on the struggling steelhead population. But the bigger picture, I think, is our collective shrug at the seeming wall of life that needs our help to survive, well, us.

Or you, actually. You humans.

When the steelhead are gone, they’re gone. That’s the thing.

But what’s one fish, right? One species of fish? One link in the chain?

We won’t know, I guess, until that chain breaks and we see how far we have to fall.


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