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Great Lakes Article:

Sea lamprey making return to Lake Erie
By D'Arcy Egan
The Plain Dealer
Published August 27, 2004

Sea lampreys seem to be making a Lake Erie comeback, much to the dismay of fisheries biologists.

The eel-like fish attach themselves to game fish with raspy mouths and drain blood from them, often killing the host fish. The lampreys prefer small-scaled game fish such as salmon and trout and are blamed for the demise of the lake trout and lake whitefish around the Great Lakes a half century ago. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission was created in 1955 to eradicate the sea lamprey and bring back the lake trout, which were all but gone from lakes Erie, Ontario, Huron and Michigan.

State and federal officials have been trying to eliminate the saltwater invader for decades. The most common method has been to chemically treat streams where sea lamprey spawn, destroying larval lamprey before they reach the parasitic adult stage.

This summer, there has been an increase in the number of lamprey found attached to game fish, mostly steelhead trout, caught by anglers fishing the Ohio coast. Biologists at both the Sandusky and Fairport Harbor offices of the Ohio Division of Wildlife have been hearing the bad news from sport fishermen.

The fishery commission monitors the lamprey population of Lake Erie and continues to treat Ohio streams. With few clear-water streams and a lack of proper spawning habitat, Ohio is not considered a hotbed for spawning lampreys.

The lamprey arrived in Great Lakes after the Welland Canal was built in 1829 to allow freighters passage past Niagara Falls. First recorded in Lake Erie in 1921, the lamprey quickly spread. The smaller, silver lamprey is native to Ohio waters and is more commonly found in western Lake Erie; the sea lamprey favors the deeper waters of central Lake Erie.

 

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