SURREY, B.C. (August 31, 2011) – A recent fish inventory by A Rocha has confirmed that the rare Salish Sucker still lives in the Little Campbell River watershed, despite it having not been seen in the watershed for over 30 years. On August 19, 2011, A Rocha Canada intern, Audrey Epp, caught a Salish Sucker in a minnow trap while conducting a pond inventory at the Brooksdale Environmental Centre in South Surrey. Β It was then measured, photographed and released. The pond, within the floodplain of the Little Campbell River and adjacent to some of the most productive fish habitat in the watershed, is part of a habitat restoration project funded by a 2011/2012 grant from Vancity’s enviroFund.

 

A Rocha’s Watershed Stewardship Coordinator, Christy Juteau, commented on the finding saying, “To be honest I was pretty skeptical at first…Salish Sucker in our pond? All that had been found there so far were non-native invasive species and a few stickleback…the summer weather raises the temperature and lowers the oxygen levels, so how could a Salish Sucker–an endangered species–survive in the pond?” Juteau was astonished at what she saw, recounting, “But it was quite exciting when I realized all the distinguishing features matched up. Indeed we have a Salish Sucker.” She added, “Hopefully there are enough left to re-establish their presence in the Little Campbell River.”

Salish Sucker (Catostomus sp.) is listed as Endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, and is found in only ten watersheds in the lower Fraser Valley (in Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and the Harrison area) and four in Washington State. Experts on the species have previously thought Salish Sucker was extirpated in the Little Campbell River, since they have not been found in the area since 1976. It is one of a handful of ancient species dating back 12,000 years ago within an ice-free area of the Chehalis River valley in Washington State during the last ice age. Adult suckers typically live in deep pools with aquatic and overhanging vegetation while young fish are found in shallower areas that also have abundant cover. The remaining small populations in Canada are thought to be in decline as much of their historic habitat has been destroyed or fragmented by urban and agricultural development, or impacted by activities such as water withdrawals or ditch clearing.

With the news that the Salish Sucker is now present in the project area, A Rocha will be working with its partners to investigate the distribution of this species within the watershed and how it can restore and enhance habitat for this species both at Brooksdale and within the larger watershed. This rediscovery should help to raise public awareness and stimulate more active monitoring of the ecosystem.

 

For more information on the Salish Sucker, visit the following documents or webpages:

South Coast Conservation Program Factsheet on Salish Sucker: http://www.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/factsheets/pdf/Catostomus_sp_4.pdf

Salish Sucker webpage on Fisheries and Ocean Canada website: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/species-especes/salishsucker-meuniersalish-eng.htm

UBC Zoology webpage on the Salish Sucker: http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~schluter/stickleback/Salish_sucker/Salish_Sucker

COSEWIC Status Report on the Salish Sucker: http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/CW69-14-198-2003E.pdf

About A Rocha

A Rocha is an international conservation organization working in Canada and in 20 other countries around the world. A Rocha Canada is currently working to establish the Brooksdale Environmental Centre at 19353 16th Ave in Surrey, BC, and the Prairie Centre in the Pembina Valley in Southern Manitoba. A Rocha centres and initiatives aim to bring together our staff scientists, students, volunteers, other visiting researchers in scientific projects centred on strategically chosen study areas. Through species and habitat inventories, monitoring programs, and research projects, detailed ecological understanding is developed and applied to practical conservation and awareness-raising.

A Rocha Canada has been working in the Little Campbell River watershed since 2002. As one of the last remaining undyked rivers within the lower Fraser Valley, the Little Campbell River is truly a natural jewel of the region. It is home to regionally-significant populations of salmon, trout, and a high diversity of wildlife, including several endangered species. The river was named one of B.C.’s most endangered rivers back in 2008 because of increasing development in the watershed and concerns about water quality.

 

For scientific information on this story:

Christy Juteau
Watershed Stewardship Coordinator – Little Campbell River
A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre
Email: christy.juteau@arocha.ca

Media Contact:

Luke Wilson
Community Relations Manager
A Rocha Canada
Email: luke.wilson@arocha.ca
Phone: 604.542.9022

 

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