Blue Sucker Fish Research

Blue Sucker Fish Research

[boat accelerates] [music] – NARRATOR: Matthew Acre is
searching for a blue ghost. It’s here on the Colorado River
where this team spends days, weeks, months of the year
looking for a rare and threatened fish
called the Blue Sucker. [water splashing] – Currently, the Blue Sucker,
its status is somewhat unknown in the lower Colorado River, so we are not 100% sure how
the Blue Sucker is doing. [action music] – DAKUS GEESLIN: Whew! Come on Blue. – NARRATOR: So they are here
electrofishing… – DAKUS: Carp. – NARRATOR: …to try
and find them. – So we are about ten miles
east of Austin on the Colorado River, we are looking
for that faster water, and some type of structure,
they are really adept at swimming in fast water,
they are great swimmers. What was that? – A Smallmouth Buffalo! – NARRATOR: Blue Suckers
are very rare today. They used to be found
throughout North America, but dams and poor river
quality have led to their dramatic decline. – MATTHEW: This is the coolest
fish, most people think it is a carp, but it is in
fact a catostomid, a sucker. It’s unique in that it has this
really elongated body and it hangs out in these fast
flowing waters, shoots, and riffles, that most fish tend
to avoid because they just don’t have the energy budget
to stay within that riffle. [music] – DAKUS: Bass! – NARRATOR: While the Blue
Sucker is elusive, the team has another fish on their radar. Jess Pease his here studying
the Guadalupe Bass… – DAKUS: Whoa, is that a bass! – NARRATOR: …the state
fish of Texas. – JESS: Along with tracking the
movements of the Blue Sucker, we are also tracking
Guadalupe Bass movements. – DAKUS: Wow, that’s a
good one, Jess! – JESS: Previous studies have
shown in the upper tributaries which are smaller systems that
they are pretty sedentary and don’t move that much. [boat motor revs] And down here with this bigger
river system we are seeing larger movements by these
Guadalupe Bass to very specific habitats. – DAKUS: Oh wow! Wow Jess, that’s what we
are talking about! [laughs] Yeah!! – JESS: Little Guad,
two seventy nine. – NARRATOR: While Guadalupe Bass
are here, these big Largemouth Bass are
all the buzz! – JESS: His flow number is 2304. – DAKUS: This is just another
indicator that the Colorado River is gaining
quick notoriety as a trophy Largemouth Bass and a
Guadalupe Bass fishery. [action music] – DAKUS: It is highly
productive area, there’s lots of food
for these guys to eat. Lots of cover. So we’ve seen a real increase
in the utilization by anglers coming out here and fishing for
specifically targeting Guadalupe Bass and our bigger
Largemouth Bass. – NARRATOR: As for the
Blue Sucker search, no luck so far today. But Matthew knows this is
where they like to hang out. – What we have noticed the past
couple of years doing this work is that the stretch between
Austin and La Grange tends to have the most
Blue Sucker. It is very diverse, it has
lots of twists and turns, and it is a little bit narrower. Biologists agree most fish
prefer the natural flow of a river. [rushing water] – NARRATOR: And fish do best
when dam releases mimic the seasonal high and low flows
that they are used to. – DAKUS: In any river ecosystem
what you are hoping for is a natural flow regime, and what
that means, is just a natural, natural hydrology. Those are essential to not
only the Blue Sucker and the Guadalupe Bass, but
to a lot of critters. [boat engine revs,
water splashes] [splashing] There is your Buffalo. [splashing] Shad hole! – JESS: Geez! – DAKUS: Come on Blue! – MATTHEW: We typically find
Blue Sucker in large woody debris, lots of
cobble, and boulders, so it’s generally somewhat
dangerous to be shocking these fish out of when we
are doing these mark recapture studies. But um, for the love
of the fish! [action music] – JESS: Hey, hey, hey, Dakus! – DAKUS: I missed him! [action music] Right there Matt, right there! Agh!! [action music] – JESS: There we go! – MATTHEW: Nicely
done everyone!! [music calms] – DAKUS: Nice! [laughter] Wow, finally! He was in that fast water just
where we expected him to be! It just took us a couple
of passes through there. You just have to
be on your game. That is awesome dude! – MATTHEW: So this is an
adult male Blue Sucker. He’s in great shape,
very healthy looking. He’s about six hundred and
ninety six millimeters, which is twenty seven
and a half inches. So this is a PIT tag, a passive
integrated transponder. It allows us to uniquely
identify individual Blue Suckers. We’ll PIT tag it, right here
just under the dorsal fin. We take the scales and the
scales we use to age the fish. Put them in a certain class! So we know how many fish were
spawned in a certain season. Oh, it’s so exciting to catch a
Blue Sucker, we put four hours of work into catching a single
Blue Sucker, so fantastic! Now we are going to release him. [splashing] [calm music] – NARRATOR: Using an antenna and
a receiver, these two are out again, with radio telemetry
they monitor some of the 170 Blue Suckers
that are now tagged. – JESS: One hundred and
fourteen at sixty two. – MATTHEW: There he is! The telemetry work that we do,
we are able to tell where that fish at that particular moment,
and we can use that data in conjunction with flow data. To determine when Blue Sucker
are most likely to move, and this gives us a better idea
of what Blue Sucker prefer. – NARRATOR: This study and the
scientific data will hopefully help ensure that the Colorado’s
natural flow continues. – DAKUS: So what we are really
hoping for out of this study is to develop the science
for the Blue Sucker, so we as resource managers can
better inform some of the water policy decisions, and
the management of our Highland Lakes there
above Austin. And how we can manage the river
and the lakes as one system. – NARRATOR: As for Matthew,
he’s not going to stop the science anytime soon! – Too often I think that
natural resources and ecosystems as a whole
kind of get overlooked. And what we need to do to gain
that seat at the table to help influence those people actually
making the policy, we need science, we have
to have the data. – DAKUS: Let’s get us a
Blue Sucker out of here! – MATTHEW: So that’s why I do
this every day! [dramatic music] – NARRATOR: This project was
funded in part by a grant from the Sport Fish
Restoration Program.

2 thoughts on “Blue Sucker Fish Research

  1. Do you all happen to gently let the fish swim back on its own when releasing them (i.e. gently lowering them into the water)?

  2. fish can live a long time and they form hierarchies and tribes too and defend and patrol territories that are supportive habitats they are not just dumb creatures driven solely by instincts, they have parenting skills too.

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