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MARQUETTE COUNTY — The sea lamprey dates back to the mid-1800s in Lake Ontario and nearly 100 years in the Upper Great Lakes.
“The sea lamprey is an invasive species and if we were to let it go unchecked, it could potentially destroy all of the large fish that are out there,“ said Shawn Nowicki, Supervisory Fish Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.
These invasive creatures attach to fish with their suctioned mouth and teeth and use their tongues to grasp through a fishes skin, so they can feed on its blood and body fluids.
A single sea lamprey will destroy 40 pounds of fish during its adult life, and that’s destroying fishing.
Nowicki said, “But also there are commercial fishers that are out there that do this for a living. And then it directly affects the economy. of our Great Lakes area. All of the states and all of these small communities. And they rely on the tourism, they rely basically on the fishing industry.“
There are several methods in place to control the sea lamprey population. Lampricides, traps and barriers. But, it requires cooperation from the public.
“The best thing that anyone in the general public can do is, particularly landowners, it be cooperative. When we ask permission to go through their land, to access the streams and areas where these lampreys live in,“ said Nowicki.
Controlling the sea lamprey population is vital for the recovery of native and desirable fish and for the ecosystem.
Sea lampreys can not only be found in lakes like the one behind me, but they can also be found in rivers, creeks and streams.
For more information about sea lampreys and the efforts to control them, click here.