The depths of the sea are riddled with mystifying wonders and bizarre ocean creatures. While most sea creatures are only terrifying in appearance, there are some ugly ocean creatures that are frightening because of their hostile nature. The sea lamprey is one such creature.
An invasive species, the prehistoric sea lamprey has an eel-like body and corrosive suction cup mouth. It is a parasitic nuisance to the various aquatic regions it inhabits within the United States and Canada. A sudden increase in sea lampreys during the 1940s greatly threatened and endangered a significant number of commercial fisheries throughout the Great Lakes because of their destructive feeding habits. Some interesting facts about sea lampreys not only concern their hematophagous feeding behaviors but also their overall biology. Prepare yourself for an underwater expedition to learn some scary sea lamprey facts that will terrify and educate you on this strange and destructive ocean creature.
Sea Lampreys Are Vampires And Suck The Life Out Of Their Prey
The sea lamprey is nicknamed the vampire of the sea, and for good reason. Their wide suction cup mouths allow them to cling onto their host and feed for a prolong time. The lamprey generally vacuums itself onto one spot of their victim's body, making it an effective method to sucks their prey’s bodily fluids and blood. In addition, the proteins in their saliva widen the blood vessels of their prey while their abrasive tongue and piercing teeth damage the skin of its victim and induce blood flow. This allows the lamprey to consume more nutrients and nourishment in a short amount of time
Lampreys Are Jawless Fish With A Suction Cup MouthPhoto: T. Lawrence, Great Lakes Fishery Commission/ NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory / Flickr / CC-BY-SA 2.0
The sea lamprey has a wide-open mouth that is filled with rows of sharp teeth, formed in a circular setting. This allows the lamprey to suction and anchor itself tightly onto its prey for feeding or a rock for resting. In fact, the lamprey belongs to a superclass of jawless fish known agnathans. Creatures in this group exclude gnathostomes, which are vertebrae species with jaws. The unique thing about the agnathan class is that it’s a prehistoric group that is largely extinct. In fact, only two spices of agnathan survive today: the hagfish and the lamprey.
Lampreys Have Amazing Regeneration Powers
Lamprey fish possess the unique ability of regeneration within their bodies. They share this ability with various creatures such as crabs, sea stars, salamanders, scorpions, and some lizards to name a few. These creatures can regenerate their systems, appendages, or bodily fluids in some form. If a lamprey’s spinal cord becomes completely severed, leaving the creature immobile, they can recover to full mobility again in 10 to 12 weeks. Because the sea lamprey can regenerate some of their long nerve connections, they can heal the injured part of their spinal cord.
Parasitic Sea Lamprey Destroy The Environment
The sea lamprey is considered to be a parasitic fish because it bores holes into its prey while feeding on their blood and bodily fluids, slowly killing their prey and damaging the species overall survival rate. In fact, a single parasitic lamprey can kill over 40 pounds or more of fish in its lifetime.
The impact that sea lampreys pose to the ecosystem greatly threatens the lives of the many fish it prefers to feed on, such as the lake sturgeon. Because of the sea lamprey's horrendous feeding habits on lake sturgeons, the sturgeon has been marked on the threatened and endangered species list in both New York and Vermont.