Setbacks and Success

Life is carrying on as usual at the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife offices. We are monitoring our propagation cages daily and trying to avoid total doom for the young suckers. This month has had a few complications. Upper Klamath Lake has been teasing us with blooms of the dominant algae, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. This aquatic plant grows in such high densities every summer that the lake takes on a “pea-soup” green color. It also smells terrible. This part is not so bad if you are a fish, but in some cases all the algae will die off at the same time, causing the oxygen in the lake to plummet to near zero. Our main job is to check the amount of oxygen in our cages continuously so that if the bloom crashes, we can turn on our aeration system and keep the fish alive.

Lots and lots of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae

Lots and lots of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae

In other news, we have a lot of fish in our cages but most of them seem to not be suckers. Last week we decided to pull up one of the cages to see how many fish we had. The unfortunate answer is not very many. Our two Tule lake cages have roughly 100 juvenile suckers per cage which is fairly dismal considering we put about 7,000 larvae in at the beginning of summer. Upper Klamath Lake has even less. If we were trying to improve populations of fathead minnows we would be a success story. Somehow we have thousands of this invasive fish in our cages instead. Oh well, it is a pilot study. We’re only learning for next time.

Lots and lots of fathead minnows.

Lots and lots of fathead minnows.

Time for something more optimistic. We took a break from shortnose and Lost River suckers this week and participated in a survey for Modoc suckers. Unlike the other species, Modoc suckers are doing really well. Past CLM interns surveyed their range in Northern California and Southern Oregon and found that the species is present in a larger area than was thought when they were originally listed as an endangered species. This work has allowed one of the scientists in our office to file for delisting. The report isn’t finished yet, but the Modoc sucker could potentially be the second fish to be delisted in the history of the Endangered Species Act. We contributed to the monitoring of this species by helping with an annual survey to determine their distribution through Thomas Creek in Lakeview, Oregon. It felt good to continue the work of previous interns and work with a fish species that is doing really well.

There are less than two months left and work to save the fish continues in Klamath Falls.

Until next post,
Alanna

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