Sea lamprey

Facts about Sea lamprey

We found 15 facts about Sea lamprey

Vampire fish

Sea lampreys have a very characteristic life cycle. Freshly spawned fish remain in their larval stage - ammocoetes - for several years. During this time they feed on detritus and plankton. After metamorphosis into adult form, they begin to feed on blood, which they suck from fish and aquatic mammals with their characteristic sucking, conned mouth.

They mate only once in their life and then die.

Sea lamprey
Sea lampreys live in the northern hemisphere.

They live in the western and northern Atlantic, near seashores of Europe and North America, the Black Sea, and the western part of the Mediterranean Sea.

In the United States, they are a native species to the Connecticut River basin.

Their skeleton is made of cartilage instead of bone.

Sea lampreys belong to the class of Chondrichthyes, which make up a minority of all living fish. Of the nearly 35,000 species of fish, there are about 1200 cartilaginous species only.

They are medium size fish with eel-shaped bodies.
Lampreys are about 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 in) long, have olive or brown-yellow bodies. Skin is darker on the upper side of an animal.
They have no jaws.
They have jawless suckers studded with teeth. A single sharp tongue is situated in the middle part of the mouth. It serves to penetrate the scales and skin of their prey.

During an attack, sea lampreys attach themselves to the skin of their prey. The teeth are used to grasp and hold on while they feed on body fluids.
Lampreys belong to a family of ancient fish that existed before the dinosaurs' time.
The first jawless fish appeared on Earth during the Silurian period between 443.8 and 419.2 million years ago.
They migrate upstream from bodies of water to spawn.
Fish that behave in this way are called anadromous. When they reach their destination, the male begins building a nest in the river substrate, where the female subsequently lays the eggs. Spawning time varies longitudinally within the range of the lamprey. The nest must be located in places with moderate currents that the nest construction can withstand.
A single female of sea lamprey lays between 30,000 and 100,000 eggs.
After mating, both parents die.
The spawned larvae find cover in the sand and mud, where they stay for three to four years, feeding on detritus and microalgae.
Lamprey's larvae (ammocoete) spend a few years in fresh bodies of water until they undergo metamorphosis.
Adults are hematophagous parasites.
This means they feed on the blood of their prey.
Morphed juvenile lampreys migrate to lakes or saltwater environments.
At this time, they begin to feed on their victims' blood. It is estimated that a single sea lamprey is capable of killing 18 kg (40 lb) of fish annually.
Lampricides are chemical compounds designed to harm sea lamprey's larvae.
It is being used in ecosystems invaded by lampreys, where they endanger local fauna. Usage of lampricides is safe as it does not harm any other aquatic organisms.
Invasion of Great Lakes.
In 1835, the sea lamprey was first observed in Lake Ontario. Due to Niagara Falls, lampreys were unable to spread further into other Great Lakes. Unfortunately, the improvements conducted in the early 1900s to the Welland Canal infrastructure, a bypass of Niagara Falls, were enough for the lampreys to begin their invasion.

First was Lake Eerie in 1921, Lake Huron in 1936, Lake Michigan in 1937, and finally Lake Superior a year later.
Being an invasive species, sea lamprey found no natural predators, competitors, parasites, or pathogens in the Great Lakes.
Without proper population control, their numbers multiplied and became detrimental to the local ecosystem.
Why are sea lampreys so detrimental to the Great Lakes ecosystem?
In their natural habitat - an Arctic Ocean - fish are accustomed to lampreys, so in most cases, their parasitic activity does not kill marine fish. Great Lakes fish did not co-evolve with lampreys, and their organisms are not adapted to this type of injury and anticoagulant enzymes.
Sea lampreys can be found deep under the sea.
Specimens of the sea lamprey have been recorded at depths of 4000 m (2,5 mi).
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