Pacific Lamprey eel

Swim, Lamprey, Swim!

Mar 17, 2014
USFWS Pacific

An eel-like fish native to the Northwest can now more easily make it up the Columbia River. Managers at the Columbia’s McNary Dam have installed a new passage system for Pacific lamprey – the first of its kind for the toothy fish.

Courtney Flatt

Pacific lamprey numbers are quickly declining throughout Northwestern waters. Tribal elders remember times when the Columbia River was black with the eel-like fish. Now, Northwest researchers are trying to develop a lamprey hatchery – the first of its kind in the world. But, there are challenges ahead.

Courtney Flatt

Pacific lamprey are toothy eels that were once plentiful in the Northwest. Many considered them trash fish, but they are an important staple to Native American diets and ceremonies. Lamprey numbers have greatly declined in the past few decades. Now there is a push to understand more about the eels, so more can be harvested for tribal tables.