Fish Found on MRC Forestlands
(Last Revised December 2005)
Anadromous fish exhibit migratory behavior, spending much of their life at sea, then migrating to freshwater to spawn. Anadromous fish found in rivers within MRC forestlands are coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), steelhead trout (O. mykiss), and Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata).
We have many watercourses with both coho and steelhead: Hollow Tree Creek, Cottaneva Creek, Hardy Creek, Howard Creek, Noyo River, Big River, Albion River, Navarro River, Elk Creek and Garcia River. The watercourses with only steelhead are: Ackerman Creek, Greenwood Creek, Juan Creek, Alder Creek, Mallo Pass Creek, Willow Creek and Mill Creek. Chinook are present in Hollow Tree Creek and episodically in the Albion River.
Coho populations found on MRC forestlands belong to two evolutionarily significant units (ESUs), as currently recognized by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Populations in river basins from Punta Gorda north to the Oregon border belong to the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coasts ESU. Populations distributed from Punta Gorda south to the San Lorenzo River (Santa Cruz County, California) belong to the Central California Coast ESU. The Southern Oregon/Northern California Coasts ESU was federally listed as endangered in 2005 and the Central California Coast ESU was federally listed as threatened in 1996. California Department of Fish and Game considers coho within the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coasts ESU to be endangered.
Chinook populations found on MRC forestlands belong to the California Coastal ESU. This ESU, which encompasses all naturally spawning coastal chinook salmon from Redwood Creek (Humboldt County) to the Russian River (Sonoma County), was formerly included as part of the Southern Oregon and California Coastal ESU. Chinook salmon in the California Coastal ESU were federally listed as threatened in September 1999.
The steelhead populations found on MRC forestlands belong to two contiguous ESUs, as currently recognized by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Populations in river basins from Redwood Creek (Humboldt County) south to the Gualala River (Mendocino County) belong to the Northern California ESU. Populations distributed from the Russian River south to Aptos Creek (Santa Cruz County) belong to the Central California Coast ESU. The Northern California steelhead ESU was federally listed as threatened on June 7, 2000. Populations belonging to the Central California Coast ESU were federally listed as threatened on August 18, 1997. Steelhead and salmon travel up streams from the Pacific Ocean in the late winter and early spring. They construct nests in gravels where eggs are deposited and fertilized. The eggs hatch and juvenile fish emerge from the gravels in the early spring through the early summer. Fish stay in the rivers anywhere from a couple of months to six years after which they migrate to sea to feed and develop until they return to spawn as adults. Salmon die after spawning. Steelhead can spawn multiple times.
Pacific Lampreys spawn from Alaska to the Ventura River system in Southern California. Larvae spend as much as 5 years in their birth stream, growing to 4-5 inches before migrating out to sea from December - June. They spend another 3-4 years at sea where they grow to 2.5 feet. Larval lampreys are not parasitic and feed off small diatoms in the water. Adults suck the blood of a multitude of fish hosts. They do not kill their host. Adults enter the streams from April-July and deposit their eggs in redds constructed of gravel and coarse sands. Most die after spawning, however some do survive to spawn again. Eggs hatch within 24 weeks and larvae move down stream, burying themselves in mud in the bottom of pools.
Other fish species found within MRC forestlands are coast range sculpin (Cottus aleuticus), prickly sculpin (C. asper), riffle sculpin (C. gulosus), California roach (Lavinia symmetricus), three spine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and Sacramento suckers (Catostomus occidentalis).