Sea lamprey Facts

Sea lamprey Facts
Sea lamprey is an eel-like type of primitive fish which spends part of its life in marine and part in fresh water. It is native to the Atlantic Ocean, and it can be seen near the coasts of North America and Europe. When it comes to the fresh waters, sea lamprey is native to Connecticut River ecosystem. In the first part of 20th century, sea lamprey managed to expand its habitat to Great Lakes and Lake Champlain by traveling through man-made system of canals. Sea lamprey acts as parasitic and invasive species in each new habitat. It attacks and decreases population of native fish and disturbs natural balance of the ecosystem.
Interesting Sea lamprey Facts:
Sea lampreys can reach 12 to 20 inches in length and 8 to 13 pounds in weight.
Sea lamprey has eel-shaped body that is slimy and naked. It is brown to black on the back and light yellow to light brown on the belly.
Sea lampreys are jawless fish. They have large, reddish eyes and single nostril on the top of their head.
Just like other fish, sea lamprey breathes using the gills. It has seven gill openings that are located behind the eyes.
Sea lampreys are easily recognized by the large mouth, filled with circular rows of teeth. They are designed for sucking.
Sea lamprey is feeding by sucking blood and bodily fluids of other fish. They will attach mouth to the prey like a vacuum cleaner. Sharp teeth and rasping tongue easily damages the prey's skin and induces blood flow.
Larger fish might survive attack of sea lamprey, but smaller usually dies due to serious wounds or subsequent infections.
Sea lamprey usually attacks white fish, trout and chub. Besides fish, sea lamprey feeds on small invertebrates.
Sea lamprey also uses its mouth to attach itself to the stones and take a rest during migration from marine to fresh water.
Sea lamprey spends around 10 years in the fresh water. After that time, it migrates to sea, where it stays usually around 2 years. During that time, sea lamprey will become mature and it will return back to fresh water for spawning.
Spawning takes place in the spring. Sea lamprey can deposit as much as 100 000 eggs in the stony nests. Sea lampreys will die immediately after spawning.
A lot of eggs deposited by sea lamprey serve as food for other fish in the water.
Sea lamprey can induce significant damage to an ecosystem by killing large number of native fish species. For that reason, people use chemicals, electric fences and dams to prevent uncontrolled spreading of the sea lampreys toward sensitive rivers and lakes.
Sea lampreys can be fished and used as delicacy in certain European countries.
Average lifespan of sea lamprey is 14 years.

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