Lam­preys latch onto fish and bleed them to death

World of Animals - - Bloodsuckers -

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”

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