Columbia River lampreys are like salmon in that they are born in streams, feed in the ocean and return to spawn and die. And like salmon, their numbers have been drastically reduced by dams. They are valued by many Northwest tribes who consider lamprey sacred food, consumed at funerals, memorials, and special dinners. One of the places where eels are caught by tribal members is at Willamette Falls on the Willamette River near Oregon City, Ore.
Lampreys are three times higher in healthy fats than salmon but were long regarded as "trash fish."
Now, tribes are working on a $50 million restoration effort with the Corps of Engineers. Researchers at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab at Mukilteo are working on a lamprey hatchery.
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