Listening to the Land January 16, 2013

The Forgotten Fish
Jeff Jolley, US Fish & Wildlife

Jeff Jolley is used to getting teased for studying “worms instead of real fish”, but he knows that his work studying Pacific lamprey-an ancient eel-like fish once abundant in Pacific Northwest waterways-is no laughing matter. At January’s Listening to the Land program, taking place on January 16 at 6 pm at the Seaside Public Library, Jolley will share his knowledge of a creature that is vitally important both ecologically to Northwest rivers and salmon runs, and culturally to Native American tribes.

“Working with Pacific lamprey is fascinating,” says Jolley, “First and foremost, they are prehistoric and predate dinosaurs, having evolved very little in that time. This in itself is pretty amazing. And compared to most other fish, we know very little about its biology and ecology. So the exciting part is that we are constantly learning new things about the species.” 

One thing we do know is that Pacific lamprey populations are in a deep decline. Scientists like Jolley are hoping that better understanding of the movement and migration of this mysterious fish can help reverse that trend before it’s too late. 

Watch a video of Jeff Jolley sampling for Pacific lamprey on the White Salmon River:

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQAbhexDcL0 feature=plcp width=550 rel=0]