Suckers and Pelicans and Frogs… Oh My!!

Is it even possible to cram this last months activities into one blog post? Not likely, but I will do my best.

I left Kansas at the beginning of April with my 5th-wheel trailer and two kitty cats in tow. With my internship starting in a couple of weeks, I decided to have myself a little adventure getting out to Oregon. I followed two strangers into the wilderness of New Mexico to a community of hippies (you could call this reckless behavior), I was humbled by the enormity of the Grand Canyon, I wore the soles of my shoes thin hiking around Zion National Park, and I nearly lost my home in Death Valley. All in all, the adventure was off to a pretty good start.

Bringing the ol’ home out to Oregon!

The Subway at Zion National Park

The adventure continued upon my arrival to Klamath Falls, Oregon and my first day at the field office! Introductions were made and I thanked my lucky stars for getting such an awesome mentor and group of coworkers. I established myself at a local RV park and took a tour of the town and surrounding areas. Wow, is this a pretty area! I can hardly even believe that I get to spend 6 months here!

Upper Klamath Lake- home to thousands of endangered suckers!

Rogue River National Forest is a large forest outside of Klamath Falls!

One of the first projects my fellow CLM compadre, Jeff, and I were given was assisting with the juvenile, endangered Lost River Suckers and Shortnose Suckers at the local fish hatchery. We started out by preparing the juveniles for release. Several days were spent going through each juvenile (over 1,000) and measuring, weighing, and checking for PIT tags on the fish. Once every fish had its data recorded and tags were ensured, the fish were taken to two separate locations and released. It was pretty incredible getting to be a part of the final release. You get to stand back and take in all of the work that went into that particular batch. Quite rewarding, if I do say so myself.

Me, neckless, on the right, measuring a juvenile sucker. Jeff, on the left, is checking the Ranger for PIT tags.

Jeff measuring one of the babies! So cute! (They are very squirmy.)

The transportation tank used to move the juveniles from the hatchery to the release site.

Releasing some juvenile suckers into Klamath Lake

Another project that we were fortunate enough to help out on about once a week was with the Bureau of Reclamation netting adult Lost River suckers and Shortnose suckers from Lake Ewauna for transportation to the Williamson River where better spawning habitat is offered. The nets were laid very early in the morning and pulled out of the water several hours later. This entails someone driving the boat while two people pull each side of the net out of the water and into the boat. Data is recorded for what species of fish are captured and any suckers are kept in a holding tank on the boat. We always have a good time when we are out with the Bureau of Reclamation guys. From ridiculous jokes to a group of American White Pelicans that follow us around, we are never short on laughter.

This group of American White Pelicans always follows us around in hopes of getting a fishy snack from us

Jeff and Brock pulling in one of the nets

Jeff and I have also been helping out with Oregon Spotted Frog surveys! Seven mile creek is located in beautiful Winema National Forest about an hour outside of town. The first time we went out we didn’t have any luck in finding egg sacks or adult frogs (unless you call it lucky that we still got to hike several miles in the wilderness, uh heck yea). BUT upon returning to the site a couple of weeks later when it was warmer, we came across several egg sacks and adult frogs! Data sheets were filled out with site locations, stages of the embryos (these were all hatching!), specific measurements, etc, pictures were captured, and GPS points were taken. It was a beautiful, sunny day in good company and not much more could be asked for.

Seven Mile Creek. More like seven miles of the most beautiful forest I’ve ever seen!!!

Adult Oregon Spotted Frog and bottom right is an egg sack full of hatching larvae!

What else are you supposed to do when you come across bear scat?!

The most recent project that Jeff and I have been helping out on is with larval sucker collections. This involves us getting to the office at 3AM, driving out to the site, throwing some plankton nets into the water and catching little tiny larval suckers! They are then transported to the local fish hatchery to be treated and raised into larger juveniles for later release. You have to be extremely careful when handling the larvae or moving them from one tank to the other because they are very sensitive to changes in water temperature (kind of like me with the cold lol). The perks to being in the field at 3 in the morning is that you have some seriously beautiful sunrises. It’s hard to not be completely content in moments like those.

Dip netting later in the morning for larval suckers

My experience so far with this internship is nothing short of amazing! I am so thankful for this opportunity to acquire knowledge, meet wonderful people, and immerse myself in some new adventures. I am looking forward to what is to come and getting to share my experiences with those who will listen. 🙂

Marissa- Klamath Falls Field Office- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

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