Salish Sucker

Catostomus sp. cf. catostomus

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

The Salish Sucker (Catostomus sp. cf. catostomus) is a small freshwater fish. The species is sometimes referred to as a 'species in the making'. It became separated from its closest relative, the Longnose Sucker (Catostomus catostomus), after the Pleistocene glaciation.

Salish Suckers have black backs mottled with dark green, and light coloured bellies. They have fine scales and fleshy-lipped mouths on the underside of their blunt snouts. The Salish Sucker has larger scales and a shorter snout than the closely-related Longnose Sucker. A red band is visible along the species' sides during spawning season and is particularly noticeable on males.

Habitat

In North America, the Salish Sucker is found only in the Puget Sound area of Washington in the United States, and in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. In Canada, there are 14 Salish Sucker populations found in 11 watersheds. These watersheds are the Salmon River, Little Campbell River, Bertrand Creek, Miami Creek, Chilliwack Delta, Agassiz Slough, Mountain Slough, Pepin Brook, Fishtrap Creek, Salwein Creek/Hopedale Slough, and Elk Creek/Hope Slough. 

In British Columbia, the Salish Sucker is found in small rivers. It is most abundant in marshes and beaver ponds. Adults and juveniles prefer deep pool habitat, whereas the young-of-the-year prefer shallower pools with vegetation. Salish Suckers spawn in riffles with cobble or gravel bottoms. The species depends on vegetated riparian habitat adjacent to its habitat to provide shade, woody debris, insects, and bank stability.

Threats

The Salish Sucker is most threatened by hypoxia, habitat destruction, and habitat fragmentation. 
Fraser Valley streams are vulnerable to hypoxia due to nutrient releases from agricultural production as well as urban runoff. Nutrients feed algal and bacterial blooms that reduce the dissolved oxygen Salish Suckers and other fishes need to survive. Channelization, dredging, and infilling threaten the species by directly destroying stream habitats. These activities, along with the construction of physical barriers, such as agricultural weirs, also fragment Salish Sucker habitat.

The species is also threatened by deleterious substances, sediment deposition, seasonal lack of water, and aquatic invasive species.

Further Information

A Recovery Strategy for Salish Sucker was published in 2016. This outlined the critical habitat, recovery goals, and recovery approaches for the species. The Recovery Strategy also sets goals to understand and reduce threats to the Salish Sucker. An Action Plan for Salish Sucker and Nooksack Dace, another species at risk in the Fraser Valley, was published in 2017. The plan outlined the actions required to recover the two species. This included encouraging private landowners and the public to protect the species' habitat.  

Recent habitat stewardship activities will also benefit the species. For example, the Habitat Stewardship Program and Aboriginal Funds for Species at Risk have funded several projects for outreach, education, and habitat restoration for the Salish Sucker and other species at risk in the Fraser Valley. A landowner contact program, educational presentations, an integrated channel maintenance pilot project, and native riparian planting by volunteers are also all ongoing in the area.

This species is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

To find out if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' website.