The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region Fisheries Program has begun a six-month “Luna the Lamprey: The Story of a ‘Forgotten Fish’” social media campaign, which follows the journey of a fictional adult Pacific lamprey and her virtual associates as they struggle for survival in the Columbia River and its tributaries in Oregon, Idaho and Washington.
The Service will tell the story of Luna as she migrates upriver in spring, in summer meets larval lamprey growing in Pacific Northwest rivers and other adult lamprey that are preparing to spawn, and in fall mentors juvenile lamprey travelling to the ocean while their bodies adapt to saltwater conditions.
The campaign will use multimedia and social media tools to chronicle the history, biology, human and cultural connections, and survival threats facing a species that until recently has received little attention despite its lineage as one of most ancient fish on the planet.
Luna, the Latin name for moon, was chosen as the lamprey’s name by a poll hosted on the Service’s Pacific Region Facebook page. The name is fitting since most lamprey migration occurs at night.
“Using social media to connect our audiences with Pacific lamprey is a fun way to reach more people," said Robyn Thorson, director of the Service's Pacific Region. "We want technology to create a pathway that allows people, especially youth, to join the conversation, reconnect with nature, and become part of the solution to protect this remarkable species.”
Projects, websites, and video highlights from partners participating in the Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative, a multiagency effort, will also be featured, including the longstanding tribal conservation efforts and strong cultural connections with lamprey, historically referred to as ‘eels.’
“Getting the word out about Pacific lamprey and their role in the Columbia Basin ecosystem is essential to rebuilding this species,” said Paul Lumley, executive director for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “A culturally significant species to the tribes, lamprey can no longer be ignored. It will take all of us, working together, to successfully rebuild their populations.”
Pacific lamprey abundance and distribution has declined significantly over the past three decades due to a variety of factors, including: barriers to migration such as dams, diversions and other in-stream structures; altered water flows or dewatered stream reaches; dredging; degraded water quality and loss of floodplain habitat.
The agency and partners hope to reverse those trends through increased efforts and a coordinated approach towards restoring lamprey.
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