The logo of the Greater Oregon City Watershed Council is the lamprey. The Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus or Lampetra tridentata) is an anadromous lamprey from the Pacific Coast of North America and Asia.
Lampreys spend the majority of their lives as larvae (ammocoetes). Ammocoetes live in fresh water for many years (usually 3–7 years, but at least one species has been recorded for +17 years). Ammocoetes are filter feeders that draw overlying water into burrows they dig into soft bottom substrates. After the larval period, the ammocoetes undergo metamorphosis and take on the juvenile/adult body morphology. Juveniles/adults have a jawless, sucker-like mouth that allows them to become parasitic on other fish and sperm whales, attaching themselves with their suckers and feeding on blood and body fluids. The adults live at least one to two years in the ocean and then return to fresh water to spawn. Whether Pacific lampreys return to their natal streams or seek spawning areas based on other cues is not known. They typically spawn in similar habitat to Pacific salmon and trout. Lampreys construct a nest (redd) in small gravel and females can lay over 100,000 eggs, which are fertilized externally by the male. After spawning, the adults usually die within four days.
Pacific lampreys are an important ceremonial food for Native American tribes in the Columbia River basin and the Yurok people of the Klamath River in northern California. Pacific lamprey numbers in the Columbia River have greatly declined with the construction of the Columbia River hydropower system. Almost no harvest opportunity for Native Americans remains in the Columbia River and its tributaries except for a small annual harvest at Willamette Falls on the Willamette River (tributary to the Columbia River).
You can buy lamprey tee shirts for $25 and lamprey ornaments for $10. Contact Executive Director, Tom Gaskill for details.