This is Passport to Texas
With a huge mouth and long paddle-shaped snout, the prehistoric paddlefish is a threatened species in Texas. In water systems like Big Cypress Bayou, their decline followed river modifications and dam construction [for Lake O’ the Pines reservoir] which altered in-stream flows necessary for their survival.
18—The in-stream flows that are released from the Lake O’ the Pines reservoir are critical for maintaining habitat within the river, as well as for initiating spawning conditions paddlefish need to reproduce.
Kevin Mayes, an aquatic biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says after years of study and restoring key features of the Big Cypress system, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Caddo Lake Institute, TPW and others, are returning this “big river” species to the ecosystem.
16—Part of that [work] was identifying that paddlefish require spring spawning pulses to support their reproduction So, we integrated those pulses into a flow regime that we call “in-stream flow building blocks” for the Big Cypress Creek.
This spring, researchers plan to release up to 50 radio-tagged paddlefish into the newly restored system, monitoring their movements, and making adjustments to flows based on the data.
The Wildlife and Sport fish Restoration Program supports our series. For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.