This is our first year of sending volunteers to survey the watershed for lampreys and steelhead, and already we have some exciting news to report. On February 18, the very first day of the surveys, volunteers Jay Chu and Alan Lumpkin captured photos and video of five western brook lamprey spawning in Crystal Springs! Way to go!
Lampreys are fascinating and important creatures. The lampreys in this video are building a gravel nest, called a redd, a behavior they share with salmon and steelhead. After lamprey eggs hatch, the juvenile lampreys (called ammocoetes) burrow into the sediment for two to seven years to live as filter feeders. Eventually, they undergo metamorphosis and live for several final months as adults, during which time they spawn and die. Adult brook lampreys do not feed.
Brook lampreys are just bigger than pencils, and their redds are tea saucer-sized. But their much larger cousins, Pacific lamprey, are more elusive in Johnson Creek and build redds the size of dinner plates. Pacific lamprey migrate to and from the ocean, are parasitic as adults, and are very important to local tribes as First Foods. We have been honored to partner with Wisdom of the Elders and PSU’s Indigenous Nations Studies Program on the lamprey-steelhead surveys.
We’re looking forward to more lamprey and steelhead data over the course of the Spring. Thank you, Community Science Volunteers!
Thank you also to the funders of our Community Science Program: East Multnomah SWCD, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, Jubitz Family Foundation.