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No Fake News here. This is only the most accurate and factual graph that has ever been created.
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We have a new record for the Ocqueoc River! The hoist at the Ocqueoc River sea lamprey trap met its match last week when Hammond Bay Biological Station (HBBS) technicians, Trisha Searcy and Tyler Bruning (pictured), discovered a record number of adult sea lamprey in a single Ocqueoc River trap – 2,363! The trap was so full that the hoist couldn’t lift the slimy load from the water, so Tyler and Trisha dipped the sea lamprey out one writhing net-full at a time.
Sea lamprey traps across the Great Lakes are operated in partnership among the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, tribes, and other contracted entities. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) staff at HBBS are operating traps on local streams through an agreement with the GLFC and USFWS. Procurement of live sea lamprey by HBBS staff is essential to USGS and GLFC-funded research efforts to develop and test control methods for sea lamprey, as well as the GLFC’s communications program. Northeastern Michigan, where HBBS is located, is the “sea lamprey capital” of the Great Lakes – more sea lamprey are trapped there than any other location. Consequently, operation of those traps is also critical to the GLFC’s ability to track sea lamprey population sizes over time.
On the day of the record-setting single-trap catch (Sunday, May 24), Tyler and Trisha also trapped a record 2,843 total sea lamprey from the Ocqueoc River, breaking the previous record of 1,414 by more than double. In total that weekend, Tyler and Trisha removed almost 6,000 sea lamprey from three streams: the Ocqueoc River, Cheboygan River and Carp Lake Outlet. The total collection so far this spring is 8,500 sea lamprey. Current trap efforts will continue through June!
For anyone wondering: the record-setting trap catch does not indicate an exceptionally large or increasing Great Lakes sea lamprey population. More likely the large catch reflects the rapid temperature change in northeastern Michigan from below-freezing temperatures in early-to-mid May to much warmer temperatures in late May, when this catch occurred. Warming water triggers sea lamprey movement in streams, and the rapid change in weather this year likely kick-started the migration in a big way, causing most of the sea lamprey to migrate over a few days as opposed to a few weeks, which is more typical. Most of this year’s total catch to-date occurred during a single weekend, supporting the rapid start to the spawning season as an explanation for the large catch, as opposed to a larger sea lamprey population in general.
Oh, and did you notice those great masks?
Photo credits: Tyler Bruning, USGS (photo on left); Andrea Miehls, GLFC (photo on right).
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One of our followers sent this in.. Pretty cool picture of a fawn hiding out in a puddle! … See MoreSee Less