Pacific lamprey numbers are quickly declining throughout Northwestern waters. Tribal elders remember times when the Columbia River was black with the eel-like fish.
Now, Northwest researchers are trying to develop a lamprey hatchery – the first of its kind in the world. But, there are challenges ahead.
Pacific lampreys were once a major staple in Northwest tribes’ diets. The oils were a source of vitamins. Babies used lamprey tails as teething rings.
Now, as numbers decline, lamprey only make it to the table during ceremonies or special occasions.