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Critters of the Chesapeake Bay. Sea Lampreys. Sea Lampreys. Sea lampreys are members of an ancient family of “jawless fishes” that were around before the dinosaurs. Sea Lampreys.

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Critters of the

Chesapeake Bay

Sea

Lampreys


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Sea Lampreys

Sea lampreys are members of an ancient family of “jawless fishes” that were around before the dinosaurs.


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Sea Lampreys

Adult lampreys are parasitic on a large variety of fishes and marine mammals where they seek out the largest members of the species.


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Sea Lampreys

Adults use their disc-shaped mouth full of teeth to hold fast to fish.


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Sea Lampreys

They may stay attached for days, or even weeks feeding of the body fluids of their victims.


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Sea Lampreys

Although lampreys are best known for their parasitic exploits in the Great Lakes, they are native to the Chesapeake Bay.


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Sea Lampreys

Adults enter the bay’s tributaries from March to June to breed. Adults die soon after this spawning event.


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Sea Lampreys

The unattended eggs hatch about two weeks later. The larvae drift downstream, eventually burrowing into sandy or silty areas.


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Sea Lampreys

The young lamprey may remain in the sand filter feeding for up to 17 years.


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Sea Lampreys

Only the mature sea lampreys are parasitic.

They spend their few adult years along the Atlantic Coast.


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Sea Lampreys

Adult sea lampreys grow to about 2.5 feet. They tend to show brown or black mottling dorsally; whitish or gray ventrally.


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Sea Lampreys

At present, sea lampreys are not a major problem in the bay. This may be due to the fact that lampreys prefer clear, pollution free waters.


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