After 350 million years, Pacific Lamprey have a new way to migrate: virtual routes along Pacific Northwest waterways using geocaches.
This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released four handcrafted Pacific Lamprey geocaching Travel Bugs™ to engage the public in learning about Pacific Lamprey and regional partnership efforts to conserve the species.
Geocaching, a technological take on orienteering, is an outdoor activity in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to locate hidden containers (“geocaches” or “caches”) and fixed objects (“waypoints”).
Pacific Lamprey are culturally and ecologically vital. An important ancient food for Native Americans in the Columbia Basin and a natural aide to salmon and steelhead populations, Pacific Lamprey are a powerful indicator of watershed health.
For the first three to seven years of their lives, lamprey larvae bury into river bottoms and filter feed, transporting sediment and improving water quality. Relatively weak swimmers, Pacific Lamprey are an ideal food source for migrating fish. After spawning and dying they continue to nourish our waterways; their bodies are important sources of marine derived nutrients for local river and stream ecosystems.
Sean Connolly, a biologist with the Service’s Division of Fishery Resources in Portland, Oregon, came up with the idea two years ago when he found a Travel Bug™ while geocaching with his son in Central Oregon.
“We found a handcrafted wire fish with a special tag that had really beautiful Native American art on one side and a special code on the other side,” said Connolly. “I looked up the code, learned that it was a geocaching travel bug that had a special mission, and a lightbulb went off.”
Inspired, Connolly worked with colleagues to create the carved wooden lamprey Travel Bugs™ with scannable Quick Response™ codes and gave them the mission that native lamprey have been completing for 350 million years - migrate.
The four Travel Bugs™, cached near Orofino, ID, Toppenish, WA, Ilwaco, WA, and Portland, OR, all have specific missions to follow upriver or downriver virtual journeys. The Service worked with Pacific Lamprey conservation partners such as the Yakama Nation, Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Oregon State University, and Washington Parks and Recreation to establish key visitation sights along mission routes.
Modeled after Pacific Lamprey migratory routes, the Travel Bugs™ will rely on human transport from geocache to geocache to move up—or down—river corridors. The public can learn how to help the Pacific Lamprey Travel Bugs™ migrate by visitingj.mp/Pacific Lamprey.
The Service encourages users to respect geocaching rules on state and Federal lands. Lamprey Travel Bugs™ can visit any location, but where caches are not allowed, participants are urged to log their visit, take a picture of the lamprey travel bug, and upload it to Geocaching.com's website. The lamprey travel bug can then be left in a nearby legitimate cache. Always check with site staff locally about specific regulations.
“The fate of our Pacific Lamprey travel bugs and whether or not they fulfill their missions to migrate up- or downriver is in the hands of people, just like our real-life conservation efforts,” said Jana Grote, Aquatic Conservation Division Manager. “We wanted to use Pacific Lamprey travel bugs as a symbol for letting everyone know they can help protect this amazing species that has been around since before the dinosaurs.”
For Additional Information visit the Pacific lampreywebsite, the Willamette Basin Pacific Lamprey Travel Bug website, and the Portland, OR - Vancouver, WA Metro Area Pacific Lamprey Travel Bug website.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
- Salmon River Mountain Press
- Salmon River Mountain Press News
- News Feeds
Wildland Fire Links
- National Interagency Fire Center
- NOAA National Weather Service Lightning potential/fuel moisture graphics page
- Alaska Interagency Coordination Center
- Cal Fire
- Eastern Area Coordination Center
Eastern Great Basin Coordination Center
- Boise Interagency Dispatch Center
- Central Idaho Interagency Fire Center
- Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center
- Moab Interagency Fire Center
- Northern Utah Interagency Fire Center
- Payette Interagency Dispatch Center
- Richfield Interagency Fire Center
- South Central Idaho Interagency Dispatch Center
- Uintah Basin Interagency Fire Center
- Teton Interagency Fire Center
- Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center
Northern Rockies Coordination Center
- Billings Interagency Dispatch Center
- Bitterroot Dispatch Center
- Bozeman Dispatch Center
- Coeur d'Alene Dispatch Center
- Dillon Interagency Dispatch Center
- Grangeville Interagency Dispatch
- Great Falls Interagency Dispatch Center
- Helena Interagency Dispatch
- Kalispell Interagency Dispatch Center
- Kootenai Interagency Dispatch Center
- Lewistown Dispatch Center
- Miles City Dispatch Center
- Missoula Interagency Dispatch Center
- North Dakota Interagency Dispatch Center
Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
- Blue Mountain Interagency Fire Center
- Burns Interagency Fire Zone
- Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center
- Central Washington Interagency Communications Center
- Lakeview Interagency Fire Center
- Medford Interagency Communication Center
- Northeast Washington Interagency Communications Center
- Pacific Northwest Wildfire Coordinating Group
- Vale BLM Fire Center
Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center
- Casper Interagency Dispatch Center
- Cody Interagency Dispatch Center
- Craig Interagency Dispatch Center
- Durango Interagency Dispatch
- Fort Collins Interagency Wildfire Dispatch Center
- Great Plains Interagency Dispatch Center
- Montrose Interagency Dispatch Center
- Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center
- Rawlins Interagency Dispatch Center
- Upper Colorado River Interagency Dispatch Center
- Southern Area Coordination Center
- Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center
- Southwest Coordination Center >
- Western Great Basin Coordination Center >
- Forest Service National Avalanche Center
- Payette Avalanche Center
- Sawtooth Avalanche Center
- Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center
- Northwest Avalanche Center
- Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center
- Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center
- West Central Montana Avalanche Center
- Flathead Avalanche Center
- Wallowa Avalanche Center
- Utah Avalanche Center
- Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center
- Sierra Avalanche Center
- Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center
- Colorado Avalanche Information Center
- Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center
- About SRMP