The sea lamprey, a ʙʟᴏᴏᴅᴛʜɪʀsᴛʏ and ɪɴᴠᴀsɪᴠᴇ species, has become a ɢʀᴏᴡɪɴɢ ᴘʀᴏʙʟᴇᴍ in England waterways. These ancient creatures, which resemble eels, are known for their ᴘᴀʀᴀsɪᴛɪᴄ feeding habits and have been ᴄᴀᴜsɪɴɢ ʜᴀᴠᴏᴄ in rivers and streams throughout the UK.
Sea lampreys are native to the Atlantic Ocean and were first spotted in English waterways in the 1800s.
Since then, their population has ᴇxᴘʟᴏᴅᴇᴅ, and they have become a major ᴘʀᴏʙʟᴇᴍ for native fish populations.
Sea lampreys are ᴘᴀʀᴀsɪᴛɪᴄ and ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄʜ themselves to other fish, using their sʜᴀʀᴘ ᴛᴇᴇᴛʜ to ʟᴀᴛᴄʜ onto their ᴘʀᴇʏ and ꜰᴇᴇᴅ on their ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ. It is sometimes referred to as the “ᴠᴀᴍᴘɪʀᴇ fish“.
The sea lamprey is a particularly ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴜᴄᴛɪᴠᴇ species because of its feeding habits. They can ᴋɪʟʟ and ᴄᴏɴsᴜᴍᴇ up to 40 pounds of fish during their ʟɪꜰᴇsᴘᴀɴ, which can be up to seven years.
This has ʟᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴀ ᴅᴇᴄʟɪɴᴇ in native fish populations, which can have a ʀɪᴘᴘʟᴇ ᴇꜰꜰᴇᴄᴛ throughout the ecosystem.
In ᴀᴅᴅɪᴛɪᴏɴ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ɪᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛ ᴏɴ native fish populations, sea lampreys can also ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ economic ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇ.
Fisheries and recreational fishing are important industries in the UK, and the presence of sea lampreys can have a significant ɪᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛ ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇsᴇ ɪɴᴅᴜsᴛʀɪᴇs.
They ᴄᴀɴ ᴅᴀᴍᴀɢᴇ fishing gear, ʀᴇᴅᴜᴄᴇ fish populations, and ᴄᴀᴜsᴇ a ᴅᴇᴄʟɪɴᴇ in the ᴏᴠᴇʀᴀʟʟ ʜᴇᴀʟᴛʜ of rivers and streams.
The ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ And Management Of Sea Lampreys In English Waterways Is A ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟᴇx ɪssᴜᴇ
While there are some measures that can be taken to reduce their ɪᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛ, such as the use of barriers to ᴘʀᴇᴠᴇɴᴛ them from reaching sᴘᴀᴡɴɪɴɢ areas, complete ᴇʀᴀᴅɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ is unlikely to be successful.
This is due to the sea lamprey’s ʟɪꜰᴇ cycle, which includes a lengthy sᴘᴀᴡɴɪɴɢ period in which they are ᴅɪꜰꜰɪᴄᴜʟᴛ to ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ.
Efforts are underway to manage ᴀɴᴅ ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ the sea lamprey population in the UK. These efforts include the use of ᴘʜᴇʀᴏᴍᴏɴᴇs to attract sea lampreys to specific areas, where they can be ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ and ʀᴇᴍᴏᴠᴇᴅ.
In addition, research is being conducted to better understand the sea lamprey’s ʟɪꜰᴇ cycle and to develop new methods for ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ and management.
The sea lamprey is a ʙʟᴏᴏᴅᴛʜɪʀsᴛʏ and ɪɴᴠᴀsɪᴠᴇ species that ᴘᴏsᴇs a significant ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛ to native fish populations and the economy in English waterways. While complete ᴇʀᴀᴅɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴ is ᴜɴʟɪᴋᴇʟʏ, efforts to manage and ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ their population are underway.
It is important to continue to research and develop new methods for ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ and management to ᴍɪɴɪᴍɪᴢᴇ their ɪᴍᴘᴀᴄᴛ and protect the health of our rivers and streams.