What’s living in Northern Nevada’s water is an important indicator of water quality for our area, and in some cases can affect water quality, so news on aquatic species is always of interest here at WETLAB.
First, the good news. As reported by Tom Knudson in the Sacramento Bee, the Pyramid Lake Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is recovering from near extinction.
“This is such an exciting story because this was such a unique fish,” said Mary Peacock, an associate professor of biology and genetics expert at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the Sacbee story. “You can see pictures from the early part of the 1900s with people holding really large trout out of Tahoe or Pyramid. We thought those fish were gone.”
The particular strain of Cutthrought Trout was overfished in the 1920s and 30s, but the construction of the Derby Dam on the Truckee River to divert water meant the fish could no longer reach their spawning grounds, dealing what was thought to be the final blow, according to the story.
But survivors were found in an unlikely place, Morrison Creek on the Nevada Utah boarder, and a slow, tenuous reintroduction was underway.
On the scarier side of aquatic wildlife news, the Reno Gazette Journal is reporting that the Nevada Department of Wildlife has confirmed that New Zealand mudsnails – an invasive species that can do serious damage to a lake or river, has been detected in the Truckee River.
The small snail can be the size of a grain of sand or up to an eighth of an inch, but can out-compete native species and wreak havoc on a stream’s ecosystem, according to the article.
Looking upstream to Tahoe and other lakes that feed the Truckee River, the specter of invasive species may not be as ominous as once thought, however.
An in-depth review of national scientific studies indicates that quagga and zebra mussels, long thought to pose a significant risk to Tahoe, Donner and other area lakes, may not be able to survive in the calcium-poor bodies of water, according to “the Saga of the Quagga” by David Bunker, published in Moonshine Ink.
This recent revelation has put mandatory, paid boat inspections on Donner Lake on hold, according to the article, while the science is reviewed.
These are all important issues for the Northern Nevada region’s water quality, and will all be important to keep an eye on as they continue to develop.