July 5, 2017 – A abject eel-like angle with a broad mouth, the rarely apparent Pacific lamprey is generally vilified. In reality, they accommodate an important account in our bounded California waterways. This built-in animal cleans our rivers, delivers aliment to the baptize arrangement with abyssal nutrients and provides sustenance to tribes.
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“They can be scary-looking, slimy, and they are nocturnal, so you don’t apperceive what’s activity on; some bodies see them as ‘blood-sucking lampreys,’” said Damon Goodman, angle biologist with the Arcata U.S. Angle and Wildlife Account office. “People think: ‘what if they grab ahold of me?’”
The actuality is Pacific lamprey alone filter-feed in freshwater systems, bistro microorganisms and allowance to apple-pie the water. Aback they are aboriginal born, they are about the admeasurement of an beard and couch in the beck basal for bristles to seven years. Once they are about the admeasurement of a pencil, they transform, developing eyes, teeth and a accoutrement mouth. Again they drift out to the ocean to augment parasitically on whales, pollock and added fish. They abound to about two anxiety continued afore abiding to beginning baptize to spawn.
With their adeptness to biking further into the river arrangement than Chinook apricot or steelhead, Pacific lamprey, which can alive up to 11 years, additionally advice access ecosystem productivity.
“When they appear up to spawn and die, all that activity is appear aback into the system, which drives macroinvertebrate production, accouterment bugs for added angle and birds to eat,” said Goodman who did his Master’s apriorism on Pacific lamprey at Humboldt Accompaniment University (HSU). “They assemble these nests in the cobbles, grab rocks application their suctorial disks (mouths) and move them to anatomy a ‘fire ring’ for their eggs, creating topographic assortment in the channel.”
Bald eagles, river otters, bears and raccoons additionally augment on lampreys.
Unfortunately, the cardinal of lampreys has beneath in rivers throughout the state. As afresh as the 1990s, Pacific lampreys active beyond freshwater streams as far south as arctic Baja California, Mexico. However, by 2016 they were absent south of Big Sur. To the north, lampreys are still present forth the bank to Alaska.
Goodman forth with Dr. Stewart Reid from Western Fishes got calm to assignment with ally throughout the state, including the California Department of Angle and Wildlife, to try and about-face the trend, and abstain agreement the breed on the federal Endangered Breed List.
Van Arsdale Fisheries Station in Potter Valley, California. “People ability ask ‘can’t they aloof get over the dam,’ able-bodied they were accepting over the dam but it was demography three to four weeks and alone a baby atom were successful,” said fisheries biologist Dr. Stewart Reid. “If you had to absorb three weeks to get into your house, you’d apparently attending for a band-aid as well.” Credit: John Heil/USFWS
“A lot of what we accept done is an access to conservation,” Goodman said. “We’re aggravating to get advanced of the game, by anecdotic problems and breadth we can get the best blast for the blade – practical, low amount approaches to solutions to abetment the species.”
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Goodman and Reid begin a bargain band-aid at the Van Arsdale Fisheries Station in Potter Valley, California, breadth alone six percent of lampreys were authoritative it through the angle ladder, and with a abundant accord of exertion. Angle ladders are advised accurately for angle that jump such as apricot or steelhead, presenting a claiming for a non-jumping angle like the Pacific lamprey.
Bob Clarke, bounded fisheries diplomacy administrator (left), and biologist Damon Goodman analysis the lamprey ecology system. The activity includes a camera and a computer to adviser the cardinal of lampreys activity through the clearing tube. Credit: John Heil/USFWS
“People ability ask ‘can’t they aloof get over the dam,’ able-bodied they were accepting over the dam but it was demography three to four weeks and alone a baby atom were successful,” Reid said. “If you had to absorb three weeks to get into your house, you’d apparently attending for a band-aid as well.”
The Van Arsdale project, which amount beneath than $3,000 in materials, helps lampreys get through to the high Eel River through four-inch PVC tubing bought at a bounded accouterments store. The activity additionally includes a camera and a computer to adviser the cardinal of lampreys activity through the tube.
“All the lampreys that go up the tube get counted and measured, so, for actual little amount we get a actually able ecology system,” Reid said. “This is the aboriginal time we are able to get numbers from the monitoring. We already begin that the boilerplate time to get up the tube is three hours.”
The activity which started in 2015 will get a full-year attending by July 2017.
“We had no affirmation that this would work,” Goodman said. “No one has anytime put lampreys up a tube, abundant beneath a 50-foot ascend beyond 300 anxiety of tube. We wondered whether this was activity to actually work.
“It was a actually air-conditioned activity seeing the aboriginal one pop out of the top. There were high-fives all-around. We ample if they are application their suctorial disks to ascend up, why couldn’t they ascend up a tube.”
The aftereffect is abreast absolute success through the tube.
Scott Harris, California Department of Angle and Wildlife fisheries biologist, displays a lamprey at the Van Arsdale Fisheries Station, Potter Valley, Calif. “Their accomplished activity history and analysis is aloof so altered from any added fish. We’re acquirements article altered every day,” he said. Credit: CDFW
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“I’ve been alive with adolescent apricot for 23 years, so aback this popped up as article that bare to be addressed, I was actually absolutely happy,” said Scott Harris, ecology scientist in fisheries analysis for CDFW who has been at Van Arsdale for eight years. “Their accomplished activity history and analysis is aloof so altered from any added fish. We’re acquirements article altered every day, ambidextrous with the lampreys.
“The Eel River is called afterwards lampreys and I anticipate it is appealing air-conditioned that we accept had a two-year success of behemothic runs of the river’s namesake.”
Working with the National Abyssal Fisheries Account and PG&E, the Van Arsdale activity started as a action to acceleration up the timing of adolescent Chinook apricot accepting out of the activity area. During the aboriginal block baptize absolution in 2012 Harris became acquainted of the lampreys.
“They went appealing crazy that actual aboriginal year and were quiet for a few years and in 2016 it actually blew up,” said Harris of the numbers of lampreys that year.
A Pacific lamprey biconcave out of the Eel River in Van Arsdale Fisheries Station in Potter Valley, California. “The Eel River is called afterwards lampreys and I anticipate it is appealing air-conditioned that we accept had a two-year success of behemothic runs of the river’s namesake,” said Scott Harris, fisheries biologist for CDFW. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS
In 2012, Goodman got wind of what was demography abode and gave Harris a alarm to alpha the action of creating a access and ambience up a action to adviser them.
Sean Ledwin at the Trinity River Restoration Diplomacy Bucktail Project. “The Hoopa Valley Association accept been fishing for salmon, sturgeon and lamprey aback time immemorial,” said Sean Ledwin. Credit: Courtesy of David Bandrowski/Yurok Tribe
The accent of this activity and efforts fabricated by Goodman, Reid, Harris and the Pacific Lamprey Attention Initiative, including over 300 partners, cannot be understated. In accession to allowance advance river health, the lampreys accommodate an important cultural account to bounded tribes.
“The Hoopa Valley Association accept been fishing for salmon, sturgeon and lamprey aback time immemorial,” said Sean Ledwin, abode analysis advance for Hoopa Valley Tribal Fisheries.
“Lamprey in accurate are of absolute interest,” he said. “Tribal bodies alpha fishing for eels in winter months at the aperture of the Klamath application eel hooks and again in the bounce there’s upstream fishing with eel baskets. It is the aboriginal advance of angle that appear in afterwards a continued wet winter. Lampreys are congenital into some of the ceremonies and dances for the tribe.”
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Tim Nelson, accustomed assets administrator for the Wiyot Tribe, gathers advice on Butte Creek, a capital accessory to the boilerplate of the Eel River recently. “These aftermost brace of years we’ve had some actually acceptable runs of Pacific lamprey, and we’ve been able to acquaint our elders the specific affidavit (for it),” he said. Credit: Courtesy of Eddie Koch, Wiyot Tribe
Tim Nelson, accustomed assets administrator for the Wiyot Tribe, added, “Our elders acquaint me belief about how they acclimated to aloof go bottomward to Benbow dam and ample their gunny sacks up in account with lampreys and a brace of years ago we were advantageous if we bent one or two at the aperture of the Eel.”
“These aftermost brace of years we’ve had some actually acceptable runs of Pacific lamprey, and we’ve been able to acquaint our elders the specific affidavit and added about the activity aeon of the lamprey,” he said. “When they go out eeling now, they feel alike added of a connection.”
The efforts at Van Arsdale are one of abounding projects Goodman and Reid are spearheading. For example, a aggressive apparent fabricated from $300 of recycled actual in 2013 helped accompany lampreys aback into the brook in Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo, California.
Kristine Pepper and Fernando Manzanera, of CalTrans, acquisition abstracts on Cedar Creek, a accessory to the South Fork Eel River. “If article is casual through an breadth I don’t appetite to be amenable for alteration patterns, whether it is endangered or not,” Pepper said. Credit: Wesley Johnson/CalTrans
Also, Caltrans Engineer Kristine Pepper now considers lampreys in architecture of weirs. Afterwards seeing a one-hour presentation in 2013 by Goodman for biologists with Caltrans, Pepper absitively to absorb it in a activity at Cedar Creek, a accessory of the South Fork of the Eel River. In accord with Goodman, she developed a lamprey angle access aboideau to be included for the Cedar Brook activity and approaching projects aural Caltrans District 1.
“He put it in my apperception that there are added creatures to anticipate about,” said Pepper. “I would not appetite to arrest any accustomed action what-so-ever. If article is casual through an breadth I don’t appetite to be amenable for alteration patterns, whether it is endangered or not. I accept in attractive at the accomplished system.”
The Cedar Brook activity is slated for architecture in the summer of 2017.
Service biologist Damon Goodman holds a Pacific lamprey at the Van Arsdale Fisheries Station in Potter Valley, California.“It was a actually air-conditioned activity seeing the aboriginal one pop out of the top (of the clearing tube). There were high-fives all-around. We ample if they are application their suctorial disks to ascend up, why couldn’t they ascend up a tube,” he said. Credit: John Heil/USFWS
John Heil serves as the agent abettor bounded administrator for alien diplomacy in the Pacific Southwest Region address in Sacramento, Calif. He writes frequently about the Service’s wildlife attention activities in California and Nevada.
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