These Creepy Sea Predators Currently Live in Lake Michigan
The sea lamprey does not belong in the Great Lakes. However, they've been feasting on fish in Lake Michigan for decades.
An invasive species is defined as, "an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and harms its new environment," by the Ecological Society of America. That description fits the sea lamprey in Lake Michigan like a glove. Apparently, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has been fighting the sea lamprey problem in our Great Lakes for over 7 decades. Oddly enough, we can blame Niagra Falls for this invasive species takeover according to Michigan Radio,
The large, parasitic fish is originally from the Atlantic Ocean. Most experts think that they first got to the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal, which was built to allow ships traveling from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie to bypass Niagara Falls.
When I say this thing is a sea monster, I am not kidding. The TV show Brave Wilderness did a couple of episodes on the sea lamprey. They called it the vampire fish. In one of those episodes, the host demonstrates how the sea lamprey feeds on the blood of fish by letting it feed on his blood.
You scroll down to watch that full Brave Wilderness episode. In the meantime let's check out the body of these creepy creatures. They breathe through 7 pairs of gill openings as seen in the photo below.
Sure, these things are some ugly underwater creatures, but do they really make an impact in the great lakes? They make a huge impact according to Great Lakes Fisheries Trail,
At the invasion’s apex in the mid-20th century, harvests of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), the lampreys’ preferred host fish in the Great Lakes, plummeted from peak annual catches of 15 million pounds to just a few hundred thousand pounds per year—a drop of 98% in only a few decades.
That's why $20 million a year is spent to keep the population of these sea monsters under control.
Here's the full episode of Brave Wilderness where the sea lamprey feeds off of a human. Gross.