The DNR communications team works with agency experts to develop the weekly questions and provide the answers. This feature addresses current DNR issues, interesting topics, or the most frequently asked questions from around Minnesota.
Q: What is the difference between a steelhead and a rainbow trout?
A: Steelhead are a migratory form of rainbow trout that spend part of their lives in the ocean or Great Lakes and return to spawn in freshwater streams and rivers. Steelhead, first introduced to Lake Superior in 1895, occur naturally along the Pacific Coast. They have become naturalized along Minnesota’s North Shore; the population relies mainly on natural reproduction rather than stocking.
Spring spawning runs in Minnesota have been delayed this year by our long, cold winter, but steelhead are expected to arrive in streams up and down the North Shore by early to mid-May if the weather cooperates.
- Don Schreiner, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor
Q: Where do Minnesota’s loons spend the winter?
A: Minnesota’s loons primarily spend their winters in the Gulf of Mexico offshore from Alabama and the Florida panhandle, and southward along the Florida Gulf Coast.
They feed mainly on the bottom at depths often greater than 100 feet. That is why we are concerned about the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, since petroleum and dispersants from the spill would have likely settled in that region offshore from Alabama and Florida. We are studying Minnesota’s loons for contaminants with funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.
– Carrol Henderson, nongame wildlife program supervisor