First Month in Klamath Falls Oregon

My internship is with US Fish and Wildlife in Klamath Falls Oregon, I have been here about a month. Klamath Falls is just east of the Cascade Mountain range and very close to the border of California. While in Klamath Falls, I will be working on a number of different projects, but right now I have been working primarily with endangered lake suckers. There are two main species in the Klamath Basin.  (Klamath Falls is located in the northern portion of this watershed.)  These are the Lost River Sucker and the Short Nose Sucker. Both of these species are listed as endangered by both the state of Oregon and the federal government. There are several agencies working together to rehabilitate the suckers, including US Geological Survey, the Klamath Tribes, the Bureau of Reclamation (they deal with water and irrigation) and of course US Fish and Wildlife. It has been fun getting to work with different government agencies and seeing how they coordinate their efforts and pull resources.


Short Nosed Sucker

Short Nosed Sucker

Lost River Sucker

Lost River Sucker



Both species of the listed sucker live primarily in lakes but spawn in the rivers…right now is spawning season! I have spent most of the past two or three weeks working on either trying to catch adult suckers or trying to catch larval suckers. We are attempting to catch adult suckers to get genetic samples. One of the main goals of the season is to establish a captive breeding for the suckers.  Our mentor Josh wants to get an idea of the genetic diversity present in populations so that an appropriate level of genetic diversity can be represented in our captive breeding program. To get these samples, we would snorkel behind a group of fish and try and grab one. This was tiring and difficult, but so much fun! DSC04275



Another task we have worked on the past couple of weeks is catching larvae in the streams that we will rear in net pens in Upper Klamath Lake. This involved some night work. We would drop a trammel net with a cod attached (basically a cylinder with really small mess) from a bridge and wait twenty minutes. Most nights we would repeat this procedure two or three times at two different sites.  Mostly what you get in the sample are sucker larvae.  They are less than a millimeter when we catch them. But you also get a variety of bugs, some of which are predators on the larvae and need to be removed. We also got some lamprey when we went out this week.

Associated with this sampling our mentor gave us a problem to solve. We needed to try and prevent algae from getting into the nets. The algae can make it difficult to find the larvae, as well as crush some of the larvae and kill them. To solve this, we zip tied snow fence to the front of the trammel net to try and strain out some of the algae.  It worked really well and it was fun to think about. One part of field work that I find really enjoyable is the problem solving that goes on. It is a chance to stretch your brain and be creative. So far there have been several chances to be creative and I can’t wait for more opportunities.

In addition to the larvae that will be raised in the lake, there is a  project going on to try and salvage fish that end up in the irrigation canals coming off of the lake. There are several  small ponds set up on the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and salvage fish will be placed in these ponds and reared for two years before being put back into the system. This is a brand new program that we get to help set up.   One of the first problems that had to be solved here was that juvenile fish like structure. They like to hide in the roots of emergent plants and rocky substrate. These ponds are newly constructed so there is no structure to speak of.  So we are going to create some structure mostly with PVC pipe, decorative rocks and fake aquarium plants. It is going to be fun! There are some exciting projects coming up in Klamath so stay tuned.

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