"Long Reviled as ‘Ugly,’ Sea Lampreys Finally Get Some Respect"

"The sucker-mouthed marine lamprey has been dismissed as grotesque and a threat to sport fish. But fisheries managers in New England and the Pacific Northwest are recognizing the ecological importance of lampreys in their native waters and are stepping up efforts to help them recover."

"“Thousands of sea lamprey are passed upstream [on the Connecticut River] each year. This is a predator that wiped out the Great Lakes lake-trout fishery. [Lampreys] literally suck the life out of their host fish, namely small-scale fish such as trout and salmon. The fish ladders ought to be used to diminish the lamprey.” So editorialized the Lawrence (Massachusetts) Eagle-Tribune on December 15, 2002.

If that’s true, why this spring is Trout Unlimited — the nation’s leading advocate for trout and salmon — assisting the Town of Wilton, Connecticut and an environmental group called “Save the [Long Island] Sound” in a project that will restore 10 miles of sea lamprey spawning habitat on the Norwalk River?

Why this summer will the first big returns from stocked Pacific lampreys — a species similar to sea lampreys — climb specially-designed lamprey ramps at Columbia River dams and surge into historical spawning habitat in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho?

And why, when the canal at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River is drawn down in September, will the Connecticut River Conservancy, Fort River Watershed Association, and the Biocitizen environmental school rescue stranded sea lamprey larvae?"

Ted Williams reports for Yale Environment 360 April 25, 2023.

Source: YaleE360, 05/05/2023