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Think Out Loud

Lamprey Returning To Spawn

Pete Springer/OPB

Pacific lamprey don’t get as much attention as salmon or trout in the Northwest. It may be because of their unsettling appearance, their inability to bite a fish hook, their “burnt-tire” taste, or their false association with the sea lamprey that are invasive species in the Great Lakes.

But they’re considered a species of concern, and after surviving for 450 million years, their population is on the decline, for many potential reasons. Ramps are beginning to be installed in Northwest dams (lamprey don’t have much talent at navigating fish ladders), but it’s not clear yet if the ramps are actually helping stop the decline.

For more on the efforts to save lamprey, check out this Oregon Field Guide piece on the ramps at Bonneville Dam:

Are you a lamprey enthusiast? Have you ever caught or eaten lamprey? What should people know about the fish?

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