Not related to the eel
Lamprey Scientific Classification
Lamprey Physical Characteristics
Brown, Yellow, Olive
6 years
Top speed
10.18 mph
5.1 pounds
Lamprey Distribition

The sea lamprey, additionally frequently called the vampire fish, is a parasitical lamprey fish belonging to the North Hemisphere

With its eel- like body and jawless, round, fool- like mouth, sea lampreys are usually perplexed with eels however aren’t associated with them in any way. An intrusive species, the lamprey fish annihilated lake trout populaces in the Great Lakes container throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

5 Extraordinary Sea Lamprey Truths!

  • Lamprey fish are anadromous, which suggests that they move up rivers from lakes and seas to generate; it coincides procedure that salmon is popular for.
  • Throughout reproduction, males cover their bodies around females to eject eggs.
  • Considering That the Center Ages, the lamprey fish has actually been taken into consideration a special in France.
  • Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, sea lampreys made their means right into the Fantastic Lakes and continued to annihilate the population of much indigenous fish– specifically, lake trout
  • Lamprey fish progression with a range of phases throughout their lives and invest as much as 6 years filter- eating plankton and various other particles.

Sea Lamprey Classification and Scientific Name

Sea lampreys come from the order Petromyzontiformes and to the family Petromyzontidae, that includes 8 category including 31 species. Participants of the genus Petromyzon, that includes a number of various other species of lamprey, the lamprey itself is recognized by the scientific name Petromyzon marinus Words petromyzon suggests “rock sucking,” with petro significance “rock” and myzon significance “sucking.” Words marinus suggests “of the sea.”

These fish are additionally frequently described as vampire fish considering that they eat various other animals’ blood.

Sea Lamprey Species

These fish come from a family that includes 8 category and 31 species. There are a number of species of lamprey within its very own genus, Petromyzon When describing a fundamental sea lamprey, the species’ scientific name is Petromyzon marinus Various other instances of lamprey species from this genus consist of:

  • Silver lamprey
  • American creek lamprey
  • Northern creek lamprey

Sea Lamprey Appearance

With long, snake- like bodies including smooth, scaleless skin, these fish appearance incredibly similar to eels. As a matter of fact, many individuals think that eels and lampreys are close loved ones, however they are not. Fully grown lampreys can expand in between 14 to 24 inches in size, and they obtain an ordinary weight of concerning 5 extra pounds.

Their smooth skin is generally olive to yellow- brownish in shade together with the dorsal and side components of the body, while the stomach often tends to have a lighter color. Percentages of black marbling might additionally exist. Their bodies are composed of cartilage material, not bones, managing them exceptional adaptability.

Sea lampreys are parasitical animals, so their mouths have actually progressed to affix to hosts and draw their blood. Consequently, their mouths are typically as large as and even broader than their heads. There is no jaw, and the mouth has a round, fool- like appearance. Successive round rows of sharp teeth are discovered within.

Sea lamprey on brown trout, facing left
Sea lamprey on brownish trout.Sweeting, Roger [Photographer] (2016) Sea lamprey parasitising brownish trout. Freshwater Biological Organization, UK/ Creative Commons– Certificate

Sea Lamprey Distribution, Population and Environment

These fish are belonging to the North Hemisphere. They are discovered in the north and western components of the Atlantic Sea, consisting of along the coasts of The United States and Canada and Europe. These fish are additionally discovered in the Black Sea, the western Mediterranean, the Connecticut River container and along the coasts of the Fantastic Lakes.

As anadromous fish, they invest component of their lives in freshwater and component of their lives in deep sea. Throughout their last transformation from filter- feeders to parasitical lampreys, their kidneys transform so they can endure seawater, permitting them to go into lakes and seas where they can look for hosts to eat for survival up until it’s time to generate.

In regards to population, these fish are much from endangered As a matter of fact, enormous initiatives have actually been carried out to decrease its population in the Great Lakes container, where it annihilated populaces of lake trout and various other fish after making its means there in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is thought that these fish were natively discovered in Lake Champlain and the Finger Lakes, areas that are discovered in Vermont and New York City State. The initial discovery of the fish in Lake Ontario took place throughout the 1830s, however it is vague whether they were currently there or if they were presented with the Erie Canal, which was finished in 1825.

In 1919, enhancements were made to the Welland Canal, permitting the lamprey population to spread out from Lake Ontario right into Lake Erie. From there, it proceeded right into Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. By the 1930s and 1940s, it was annihilating populaces of lake trout and various other fish there. In indigenous environments, they coevolved with their hosts, that created defenses versus them. Consequently, hosts really did not typically pass away from the parasitical task. Fish in the Great Lakes, nevertheless, created no such defenses. After playing host to a lamprey, these fish usually pass away either from blood loss or infection.

Considered that a solitary lamprey can eliminate as much as 40 extra pounds of fish throughout its 12- to- 18- month feeding duration, it isn’t unusual that their intro to the Fantastic Lakes was so damaging. Prior to their intrusion, upwards of 15 million extra pounds of lake trout were collected annually. By the very early 1960s, that number had actually gone down to simply 300,000 extra pounds annually.

Sea Lamprey Predators and Target

Sea Lamprey Predators

In indigenous habitation locations, lampreys’ greatest predators are bigger fish, which can attack and assault them, consisting of walleye and brownish trout. In locations that the species has actually gotten into, like the Great Lakes, it is usually the pinnacle killer, which is why its populaces are so destructive. In those exact same locations, nevertheless, they encounter the risk of lampricides– chemicals made use of to decrease their populaces– and various other population- control techniques.

Sea Lamprey Target

As grownups, these fish take part in hematophagous feeding, which suggests that they attack and acquire various other animals and eat their blood. Typical targets are slim- skinned fish like salmon, lake trout, lake whitefish, north pike, walleye and lake sturgeon, however they will certainly eat sharks and rays as well. Sea lampreys dig in their rows of teeth to get a solid hold on their hosts. They after that wear their sharp tongue with the host’s ranges and produce an enzyme that avoids blood from clotting.

Sea Lamprey Reproduction and Life Expectancy

After generating, that includes a procedure in which the male presses the female’s body to expel the eggs, a female declines the eggs right into a nest that has actually been constructed by her male equivalent. These nests lie in substrate degrees of rivers with tool- solid currents. Both male and female fish pass away after generating. The larvae from the eggs arise after 10 to 13 days and delve right into silt and sand along the stream’s base. They after that invest 4 to 6 years in this larval phase, filter- eating plankton and numerous kinds of particles.

Then, the lamprey metamorphizes to the parasitical phase of its life. It continues to invest the following 12 to 20 months eating hosts that it runs into prior to making its means up rivers and streams to generate and afterwards pass away.

Sea Lampreys in Angling and Food Preparation

Although lampreys aren’t frequently fished or prepared in a lot of locations, they have actually been taken into consideration a special in France, Spain, and Portugal. Amongst several enjoyable truths, in the center Ages, lamprey was prepared by allowing it take in its very own blood for a couple of days, and lamprey pie was usually offered in imperial courts. In Finland, the lamprey is offered marinaded.


  1. Great Lakes Fishery Commissioin, Available here:
  2. Fishbase, Available here:
  3. Sea Lamprey: A Great Lakes Invader, Available here: chrome-extension://ohfgljdgelakfkefopgklcohadegdpjf/
  4. Department of Environmental Conservation, Available here:

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