New Lives in Familiar Waters: Releasing Razorback Chubs at James M. Robb Fruita State Park

Acrylic on canvas

Getting ready for a morning walk last week, I reached for my camera. Changed my mind. Same old route. I already had too many shots of the river, lakes, and cliffs.

Well…

Okay, you’re ahead of me.

As usual, my husband and I drove out  James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. We headed to the boat launch ramp. It’s fun to watch rafters inflate their craft, then load them with coolers, tents, kids, and dogs for a canyon float down to Loma or farther to Westwater, Utah.

Today there were no rafters. Instead, as we watched, a white truck carrying a rectangular tank backed toward the murky water. One of three men in wildlife management uniforms attached a large pipe to the back of the tank.

fish-and-wildlife-truck

“Are they putting fish into the RIVER?” That was my husband saying aloud what I was thinking. We’d seen similar crews stock lakes before, never the Colorado River. It didn’t seem to make sense.

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That was just what the guys were doing though. In no time, a stream of fish-speckled water arched out the tank into the river.

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Through a shouted conversation, I learned this was a restoration effort. The fish were razorback chubs (suckers). Native to the Colorado, these once-common critters measure up to three feet long. They can live for decades.

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This batch had been raised at a hatchery near Horsethief Canyon on the other side of the river. The “little guys” were about a year and a half old. Though several studies are underway to find out how many chubs make it to adulthood, nobody’s sure yet.

Luckily, my husband had his camera. I learned a lesson. Nothing is common or usual. You never know what you’ll see.

For us, it was a batch of now-rare native fish starting new lives in familiar waters.

(Photos by Alden A. Armstrong copyright September 23, 2019,  Used by permission.)

 

Published by Linda J. Armstrong

A former elementary educator, I am a freelance writer, photographer, and painter.

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