Pacific Lamprey spawning in Eel River below Tomki Creek, April 18 2015. Footage by Dustin Revel.
Pacific Lamprey are the fish for which the Eel River was “mis-named”. Thought by white settlers to resemble Atlantic eels, lamprey actually lack the jaws and paired fins that distinguish other fish. They also have round sucker-like mouths, no scales, and breathing holes instead of gills.
In the last few years on the Eel River creative solutions have been implemented to help assist lamprey in their migration over Cape Horn dam. Because they have a hard time utilizing a traditional fish ladder, biologists set up a large tube that has been very successful in assisting migration over the 96ft tall dam.
Pacific Lamprey are a significant cultural resource and with a higher protein content than even salmon, and have historically been an important part of Indigenous diets. This video documents the efforts of the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakima, and Warm Springs Tribes to conserve and protect the lamprey.