During a recent fishery monitoring trip in May, the National Park Service biologists found a translocated, endangered humpback chub in Havasu Creek. This finding represents a huge a milestone in the long-term effort to improve the species’ odds of survival.
Before this most recent trip, 543 humpback chubs were released in Havasu Creek between 2011 and 2012. About a week before the May translocation, the NPS and U.S Geological Survey staff monitored the growth, survival, abundance and spawning conditions.
During this time the team did find find female fish who appeared to be carrying fully developed eggs, meaning the fish were ready to spawn. Along with the ready-to-spawn fish, the team also found juvenile humpback chubs without identification tags. This discovery suggests that these fish were hatched in Havasu Creek during the spring of last year. These findings mean that the the translocations of the humpback chub resulted in spawning. Future monitoring is necessary to conclude that this spawning leads to the actual survival of the species.
Since 2009 the NPS and its cooperators, have been translocating humpback chub from the Little Colorado River and into other tributaries in the Grand Canyon National Park. The fish are only found in the Colorado River basin, but are in serious danger due to changing environmental factors.
Biologist will continue to study the fish twice a year. Brian Healy, the Grand Canyon National Park Fisheries Program Manager said, “It will be really interesting to see whether spawning by these adult fish continues, and whether it leads to a larger number of juveniles and their survival to maturity.”
There will be no closures at Havasu Creek for research or translocation activities. People who are fishing are asked to be aware of the qualities of the fish: silver, small eyes, large fins, developing hump behind head. If this fish is captured it must be immediately released.
For more information go to http://www.nps.gov/grca/naturescience/fish.htm.