“Vampire Fish” spawning in Vermont coastal rivers
A sea lamprey looks like a 2-foot eel with a circular mouth and rows of jagged teeth, like a shark.
A photo of one was shared this week bt Vermont Fish &Wildlife, along with a warning that people in the region can expect to start seeing the ancient parasites migrating from the Atlantic Ocean to coastal rivers.
“If you happen to see a spawning sea lamprey or a lamprey carcass, don’t be alarmed,” fisheries biologist Lael Will said in a Facebook post. “Upon returning to freshwater to spawn, adult sea lamprey ... die shortly after.”
Their appearances have inspired horror movies and they have been dubbed the “vampire fish.”
The species has existed for more than 350 million years, and counts as a prehistoric creature, Vermont officials reported. Its looks are deceiving, too.
“Eel-like in appearance, but not an eel,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. “Sea lamprey is a cartilaginous fish without jaws. This species has two close dorsal fins, no paired fins, seven gill openings, and a large round mouth with sharp, curved teeth,” NOAA says.
They survive by attaching themselves to other sea life and sucking their blood.
The native species if not often seen by people, the state said.
“In the Connecticut River, larval lamprey live in freshwater the first few years of their lives, remaining sedentary and burrowed in sandy substrate while filtering detritus from the water for nutrition,” the state posted.
They have been known to attach themselves to swimmers in the past.