SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Can an irritating blend of bright lights and loud noise deter ocean-bound salmon from deadly waters? The California Department of Water Resources hopes so.

As early as this week, the agency will install an experimental “bubble barrier” in a side channel of the Sacramento River that has become a death trap for Chinook salmon attempting to migrate downstream to San Francisco Bay.

The barrier, a sheet of bubbles enclosing strobe lights and underwater acoustics, is meant to scare young salmon away from Georgiana Slough, near Walnut Grove. Salmon that end up in the slough often succumb to hungry striped bass or other predators, or get sucked into giant irrigation pumps.

The department will track 1,500 salmon to test the success of the barrier, which will be removed by mid-May. Officials said a similar barrier installed at the head of Old River in the south Delta in 2009 and 2010 proved effective in channeling the salmon.

Despite a rebound in 2010, the salmon population has plummeted in recent years, reaching a historic low in 2009. The decline has been attributed to water shortages, as well as climatic conditions that produced little food in the ocean.

State officials have taken numerous steps to revive the population in response to an order from the National Marine Fisheries Service. That includes trucking hatchery-raised salmon around obstacles such as dams and water-export pumps so they have will have a clearer path to the bay.

The current bubble fence will lie more than nine feet below the surface to avoid boats.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (6)
  1. gerty says:

    Oh my god, that is discrimination againt striped bass. Im calln Jesse Jackson and were gonna march up and down Georgiana slough. And well have CBS 10 there and their reporters can distort the story and then well call peta. Then well have our useless assembly pass a law protecting Georgiana slough from unfair game practices and then sue and have the taxpayers foot the bill.

    1. Charles Donaldson says:

      Stripped Bass are not native to California. They are imported. Maybe we should call in Homeland Security and Immigration to deport the Strippers. God Save the California Salmon! Tet Bill Reilly and Glen Beck to help.

  2. Mike says:

    If you deport all the strippers, what will Charlie Sheen do on the weekends?

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