The sea lamprey an ancient Atlantic fish that wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes may be America’s first destructive invasive species
The rasping mouth of the sea lamprey, an infamous Great Lakes invader. Image credit: Ted Lawrence/Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Among the most primitive of all vertebrate species, the sea lamprey is a parasitic fish native to the northern and western Atlantic Ocean.
Due to their similar body shapes, lampreys are sometimes inaccurately called “lamprey eels.”
Unlike “bony” fishes like trout, cod, and herring, lampreys lack scales, fins, and gill covers
Like sharks, their skeletons are made of cartilage.
They breathe through a distinctive row of seven pairs of tiny gill openings located behind their mouths and eyes.
But the anatomical trait that makes the sea lamprey an efficient killer of lake trout