Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Summer of Great Memories at JBH

Hannah performing a stomach lavage on a Chinook
It is my last day working for CRFPO. I am Hannah Harper, one of the STEP students working for Jeff Johnson at Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge. I have had a wonderful summer working for this office, and would like thank everyone here for making this such a great experience. I have never worked in such a friendly and hard-working office.

I have so many great memories of this summer.  Taylor, Jordan, and I always had fun even when the work got dirty and tiring. When the fish counts started dwindling, we started a game to see whose net would catch the greatest amount of fish, and points were assigned for different species. For example, three spined sticklebacks were only worth 1 point, whereas salmon were worth 15 and any other species were worth 5. We also had a lot of jokes about poop (there was almost always some in the net), and once I was even caught in a “poop trap” when Taylor covered some in sticklebacks to trick me into picking it up. As Jordan stated, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned poop trap. Even around the office, I had a great time. Just this week, I got to test out a game for Donna and Jen, and Donna helped me take the work truck to the carwash. It was my first time ever driving a car through the carwash, and it was quite the adventure. Hint: don’t take field trucks to the Chevron carwash.

Top:  Net of sticklebacks and rough-skinned newts
Bottom:  Juvenile Chinook

Taylor dragging the canoe under a fallen tree at Steamboat Slough (Donna's favorite)
At large Welch Slough with Jeff, Taylor, and Donna

        Not only am I taking away great memories, but great experiences as well. I am a senior at UW studying Environmental Science and Resource Management as well as Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. I graduate and begin my job hunt in December, and the experiences that I have had here will be invaluable. Not only have I gained practical experience in habitat surveys, fish identification, seining, etc., I have also learned more about how to ask the right questions and set up a project.  Jeff has helped me develop and gather data for my fisheries senior project, which I will complete this next quarter. Since not much is known about dissolved oxygen (DO) in the sloughs, he suggested that I look at diel patterns of DO to see if levels drop below the threshold for salmon at night when there is no photosynthetic supply of oxygen. We decided that I should look at one slough that is essentially unconnected from the Columbia River and one that is connected through a tide gate. So for about 3 weeks, I got up an hour early every morning and stayed out an hour later after work. I am not a morning person, and I must say that it was very difficult to drag myself out of bed an extra hour early. But once I was up, I enjoyed it; I got to see many beautiful sunrises.  Finally, my work was all made worth it on Wednesday when I entered it into the computer, graphed it, ran some preliminary statistical tests, and saw the results I was expecting (and hoping) to see. The DO in the tide-gated slough is much more stable, whereas the DO in the unconnected slough is highly variable and drops below critical levels several times. I will combine this information with the temperature and fish data that we have gathered throughout the summer.

Sunrise at JBH

Sunset at the bunkhouse

Submitted by Hannah Harper

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Head Lab, The Place to Be

Recently I was assigned to work in the "head lab" for a week.  The "head lab" is the affectionate name we call the back room off the lab.  It is the place where we extract the coded wire tag from the snouts of salmon.  The snouts were taken during spawning and biosampling.  I had never in my career cut snouts in search of a tag and I was not looking forward to it.

Anyway, I met Chuck in the head lab where he was busy cutting heads while listening to his favorite country radio station.  He set me up with a cutting board, a very sharp knife (bad idea), a hot cup of water, and a tag detector.  He patiently showed me the procedure.  First we checked the whole snout for a tag.  Sometimes during biosampling, a fish hook in the salmon may trigger the detector.  We did get a few of those. 

Once we determined the snout did have a tag, we went to work.  Basically, you keep cutting pieces of the snout and waving the piece in front of the detector.  If the detector goes off, the tag is in that piece.  Just to be sure though, you must check the other piece to be sure it is negative for a tag.  That piece can then be tossed. 

He showed me the target area where the tag can usually be found.  It took me a long time to find my first tag.  I also think we lost it at the end.  That happens sometimes.  Those tags are small.  I need glasses just to see them.  Anyway, after awhile, I think I got pretty good at this snout chopping business.  And it was not as bad as I thought it would be.  In fact, next year I plan to sign up for the duty myself. 

This coded wire tag is what I am trying to find.

I'm trying to find it in this fish head.

First we cut off the jaw.

I start to chop the snout into pieces.

Each piece is checked with the tag detector.

The tag is somewhere in this piece of flesh.

Tag sucessfully extracted and safefly in a bag, ready to be read.
Submitted by Donna Allard

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lamprey Summit III

Lamprey Summit III was held on June 20-21, 2012 at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon. The Fish and Wildlife Service co-hosted the Summit with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

200 people attended the Summit. They represented tribes from the Columbia River Basin, Coastal Oregon and Washington, Puget Sound, and California; state agencies; federal agencies; public utility districts; NGOs; and universities. Speakers shared recent progress they have made in conservation efforts for Pacific Lamprey such as status assessments, passage improvements, and conservation plan development.

During the Summit, many tribal elders spoke of the importance of lamprey and water to their people.  The following quote is from Wilbur Slockish, Jr., hereditary chief of the Klickitat Tribe, a part of the Yakama Nation.

"From the beginning of time, the eel has had a place with our people. The tail was what we used to break the teeth of our babies – chewing for teething. The oils provided vitamins to their bodies to make them healthy. It’s not just an eel disappearing; we need to link everything that happens to the water because water is the giver of life."

A Conservation Agreement was signed by many tribes, states and agencies. The Agreement is a voluntary effort by the signers and supporters to work collaboratively to conserve Pacific Lamprey.

Now that the Summit is over and the Conservation Agreement has been signed, the Fish and Wildlife Service is working with our partners to develop regional implementation plans for Pacific Lamprey. Each region will determine what conservation actions and research is needed in their watersheds to conserve Pacific Lamprey. Actions such as improving lamprey passage over dams and culverts, restoring degraded stream habitat, and improving water quality are on the list of needed actions in many regions. Monitoring lamprey populations by doing distribution surveys is an example of a research need. We hope by working together with our partners to complete these actions and research needs, we can ensure long term persistence of Pacific Lamprey throughout its United States range.

Submitted by Christina Luzier