Delta smelt

Here in northern California, the delta smelt is much in the news: the endangered little fish, found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (also known simply as the California Delta), has for some years been at the center of a tug-of-war between conservationists and water users in the Central Valley. Attempts to save the fish by diverting water from agricultural and other uses has harmed agriculture and now, it seems, might not save the fish anyway.

In any case, the rhyming expression delta smelt is all over the place, giving some very serious news an unfortunate tone of playful silliness, like something from Dr. Seuss. Many people find the name smelt somewhat ridiculous on its own, and the rhyming name is hard to take seriously.

It’s probably too late to change the name; Sacramento smelt or San Joaquin smelt might have served, though California smelt wouldn’t do, because there are other species of longfin smelt in California.



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: