Lamprey belong to a primitive group of fishes that are eel-like but lack the jaws and paired fins of true fishes. The Pacific lamprey was once plentiful along the west coast but populations are in significant decline. They are anadromous meaning they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, mature, and then return to freshwater as an adult to reproduce. Pacific lamprey are an important ceremonial food for Native American tribes in the Columbia basin. Largely attributed to construction of dams on the Columbia River, Pacific lamprey numbers have declined significantly in the Columbia and its tributaries. Almost no harvest opportunity exists for Tribes in the Columbia River basin save a small annual harvest at Willamette Falls. A short video on that subject by Michael Durham is available below.
Ben Clemens, Fish Biologist with ODFW's Corvallis Research Lab, discussed Pacific lamprey and efforts to understand and conserve the species as part of our Discovering Wildlife Lecture Series on April 11th.
Your help is needed! Ben introduced attendees to the use of fish ear stones or otoliths in the research and management of Oregon's fish species; including Pacific lamprey. Currently, this type of research capability doesn't exist within our state. Ben, along with Dr. David Noakes at Oregon State University, is putting together a workshop to convene experts who study otoliths as related to fisheries research. One outcome of that meeting is the development of a hoped-for otolith research laboratory for Oregon. They are short of the funds needed to undertake this meeting and Oregon Wildlife is helping raise the necessary funds by matching tax-deductible donations, dollar-for-dollar, up to $750. Even if you didn't attend Ben's presentation, we hope you will consider supporting this initiative which promises to support more informed management of Oregon's fishes. Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution to support the Otolith Workshop.
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