This Post Brought to You by the Letter A for Anadromous

Anadromous (adj): migrating up rivers from the sea to spawn.

Over the weekend I had the treat of visiting Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, where the annual run of Chinook salmon is currently approaching its peak. The dam is equipped with a fish ladder to provide passage around the dam for salmon and other anadromous fish migrating upstream to their spawning grounds.


The best part was the underground viewing windows, offering aquarium-like views of the wild fish as they passed by. Photos didn’t do the sight justice so I shot a quick video clip (and has my dad wave his hand around for scale).

At another window a whole school of Pacific Lampreys had suckered themselves onto the glass. Lampreys! So cool!

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Not great photos (the light was bad) but still, OMG lampreys! Like salmon, these primitive fish spend part of their life cycle in the ocean but return to freshwater to reproduce before dying. Unlike salmon, they are parasites, using their crazy jawless sucker-mouths to latch onto other fish. Lampreys face a lot of threats and there are conservation efforts underway to help them out – more information here.

Like migratory birds, anadromous fish help stitch together different ecosystems in different places, connecting arid eastern Oregon where I live with the coast and the sea, and I really, really enjoyed getting to see them up close.

4 replies on “This Post Brought to You by the Letter A for Anadromous”

Hi Rebecca, Oh the great photo of the Lamprey Eels! They are really gross looking but do have their place in nature. I still have an interest in nature topics on the West Coast. I moved from California about 4 years ago, with a stop in TN in between. I have many relatives in Oregon and Washington as well. Your blog is great! Have a wonderful weekend!

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