Lampreys latch onto fish and bleed them to death
Nicknamed ‘vampires of the sea’, lampreys are notorious bloodsuckers whose haematophagous habits frequently lead to the demise of the fish they feed on. These ancient, eel-like creatures can be found in rivers and oceans, with 18 carnivorous species recognised. They feed using a funnel-like mouth lined with several rows of sharp teeth.
After attaching themselves to common fish such as chubs and trout, lampreys begin sucking blood into their bodies, inducing a steady flow with their rasping tongues while widening the blood vessels of the victim using anticoagulant-equipped saliva. This leaves prey with persistently bleeding wounds that are difficult to recover from, causing most fish to die after the lamprey has finished feeding.
Worryingly, sea lampreys have been invading the Great Lakes of North America via human-made locks and canals. With no natural predators and an appetite for commercially valuable fish, their presence is a continuing threat to local wildlife and people.
“Lampreys begin sucking blood into their bodies, inducing a steady flow with their rasping tongues”