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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Locality Information Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
fish

The journals of the Corps of Discovery are deeply etched into American history. Reading them it is astonishing to learn, for instance, how many fish were in the rivers, especially the Columbia and its tributaries. Fish in the salmon family were particularly abundant, including Pacific salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout.
Intimately connected to this rich food source, Indian tribes kept in rhythm with the seasonal spawning migrations. Through the journals we see Indians all along the riverbanks hanging fresh salmon filets to dry. This they did in preparation for winter.
Two hundred years later the great salmon and trout of the Columbia are nearly gone. Hydroelectric dams, runoff from deforestation, and pollution together destroyed the habitats of these fish. The journals leave us with a record of the past grandeur and abundance of life along the Columbia. They allow us a peek at both a river system flush with wild things, and the vibrant native cultures that depended on that plentitude. Their inscriptions also serve to remind us about the importance of fish to the economy, then and now.


Species Common Name
Ictalurus furcatus Valenciennes in Cuvier and Valenciennes blue catfish
Oncorhynchus nerka Walbaum in Artedi blue-backed salmon, sockeye salmon, red salmon
Ictalurus punctatus Rafinesque channel catfish
Oncorhynchus kisutch Walbaum coho salmon, silver salmon
Oncorhynchus clarki Richardson cutthroat trout
Thaleichthys pacificus Richardson eulachon
Hiodon alosoides Rafinesque goldeye
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Waldaum in Artedi king salmon, chinook salmon
Catostomus platyrhynchus Cope mountain sucker
Ptychocheilus oregonensis Richardson northern pikeminnow, northern squawfish
Mylocheilus caurinus Richardson peamouth
Oncorhynchus mykiss Walbaum rainbow trout, redband trout, steelhead
Sander canadensis Griffith and Smith sauger
Platichthys stellatus Pallas starry flounder
Acipenser transmontanus Richardson white sturgeon

 
 
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