Re: NANFA-- FW: Lamprey Bites

Christopher Scharpf (
Tue, 31 Jul 2001 19:51:36 -0400

> Below is a quote from a species account on sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)
> found on page 74 of Scott and Crossman (1973).
> "In the Great Lakes the sea lamprey has been known to attach itself to long
> distance swimmers but is quickly and easily dislodged. It will not attach
> itself to humans until long submersion has lowered skin temperature. At
> this point it will attach itself and begin to rasp.

Cool! I completely overlooked that...even though it is quoted almost
verbatim in Becker's *Fishes of Wisconsin*. And I've always thought that the
candiru catfish was the only vertebrate parasite of humans. (Although I
guess the case could be made that the candiru is naturally occurring,
whereas sea lamprey in the Great Lakes are exotic and therefore not
naturally occurring.)

> Chris' mention of them bumming rides on other animals is interesting
> -- I wonder when and why they do this.

Not that this answers the question, but according to Becker (p. 213):

"Fish to which the sea lampreys are attached are probably responsible for
some of their movement. Also, the sea lamprey has been known to fasten on
ships...; divers who examined 125 ships passing through the Canadian locks
at Sault Ste. Marie found 18 sea lampreys attached to the hulls. The sea
lamprey's habit of hitching onto ships has no doubt greatly increased the
rate of infestation of Lakes Michigan and Superior."

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