Interesting Facts About Sea Lampreys: The Vampire Of The Sea

The depths of the sea are riddled with bizarre ocean creatures and mystifying wonders. Most sea creatures are only terrifying in appearance, but some ugly ocean creatures are frightening due to their hostile nature. Sea lamprey is one such creature.
The prehistoric sea lamprey, an invasive species, has a corrosive suction cup mouth and an eel-like body. It’s a parasitic nuisance to the aquatic regions it lives in Canada and the United States.
A sudden increase in the population of sea lampreys during the 1940s significantly threatened and endangered commercial fisheries throughout the Great Lakes due to their destructive feeding habits.
Some interesting seal lamprey facts concern not only their overall biology but also their hematophagous feeding behaviors. Get ready for an underwater expedition to learn some scary and interesting facts about sea lampreys that’ll educate and terrify you on this strange and destructive creature.
1. Sea Lampreys Almost Collapsed Recreational and Commercial Fishing
An explosion of sea lampreys wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes during the 1940s and 1950s. The invasive species excessively fed on the chubs, lake trout, and whitefish that lived there.
An adult lamprey can consume a significant amount of fish in its lifetime. Therefore, a multitude of lampreys feeding on the fish in the lake caused a massive epidemic for the recreational and commercial fishing industries.
In fact, fishermen could harvest over 15 million pounds of lake trout every year from the Great Lakes before the epidemic. However, the number fell dramatically after the invasion. By the 1960’s, they could only harvest 300,000 pounds from the lakes.
2. Sea Lampreys Are Vampires and Suck Life Out Of Their Prey
The sea lamprey has been nicknamed the vampire of the sea for a good reason; their broad suction cup mouths enable them to cling onto their host and feed for a long period.
The lamprey usually vacuums itself onto one part of their host’s body, making it an effective technique to sucks blood and bodily fluids of their prey.
Moreover, their sharp teeth and abrasive tongue damage the skin of their prey and induce blood flow while the proteins in their saliva widen the blood vessels of its victim. Thus, it allows the sea lamprey to consume more nutrients in a short period.
3. Lampreys Have Incredible Regeneration Powers
Lampreys possess a unique ability of regeneration in their bodies. They share this ability with different creatures such as sea stars, crabs, scorpions, salamanders, some lizards and other creatures.
These ocean creatures can regenerate their bodily fluids, appendages, or systems in some form. If the spinal cord of a lamprey becomes severed entirely, leaving the creature immobile, it can recover to full mobility in ten to twelve weeks.
The sea lamprey can also regenerate some of its long nerve connections so they can heal the injured part of the spinal cord.
4. Low Survival Rate of Fish Attacked By Lampreys
If a sea lamprey attacks fish, odds are it will not survive. Lampreys love saltwater and fresh fish, including salmon, chubs, catfish, sharks, trout, and some small invertebrates.
About one out of seven fish a sea lamprey attacks may survive. The saliva of lampreys carries anticoagulant properties that’ll prevent the wound of a victim from clotting and healing. So, it allows for excessive blood loss and the development of severe infections that inevitably kills the fish.
Therefore, if a sea lamprey does not suck its prey dry right away, the injuries it leaves behind are more likely to kill whatever fish it latched.
5. Lampreys Die After Spawning
Sea lampreys migrate to freshwater riverbeds for breeding in winter. Females gather in small groups to lay 35,000 to 100,000 eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs externally. After fertilization, they bury the eggs in shallow nests in the stony riverbed.
Sea lampreys stop eating to conserve energy for reproduction during the spawning season. As reproducing adults, they no longer need a digestive track. So, it deteriorates to create room for the reproductive system.
It weakens the sea lamprey and allows a fungus to invade its body that kills the lamprey shortly after spawning.

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