Wildlife Conservation Awareness –
Wildlife experts in Vermont have warned that so-called “vampire fish” should not be disturbed during spawning season.
“If you happen to see a spawning sea lamprey or a lamprey carcass, don’t be alarmed,” said Lael Will, the department’s fisheries biologist, on Facebook.
“The fish provide a number of important ecological benefits,” she added. “And [they] are considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in both Vermont and New Hampshire”.
As a crucial species within the Connecticut River Basin and wider water system, people should not disturb the parasitic sea lampreys.
The species has been dubbed the “vampire fish” due to its circular mouth and sharp teeth, which allows the fish to feed on decomposed matter and other marine organisms.
Whilst young sea lampreys prey on other marine organisms in oceans, adult sea lampreys are non-parasitic when they return to the Connecticut River every spring to spawn, said Vermont’s wildlife department.
It added: “While existing for over 350 million years in the Atlantic Ocean, anadromous sea lamprey have co-evolved with their oceanic hosts and their populations are considered to be in balance.”
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Young sea lampreys typically head to the Atlantic Ocean after five years buried in freshwater river sediment.
At the same time, Vermont also hosts non-native sea lamprey that state authorities class as a “nuisance species”.
Those “vampire fish”, which can be seen at Lake Champlain, are not protected species because they are invasive.
“We believe it is important to highlight and contrast the conservation value of Connecticut River sea lamprey, educate the public and encourage folks to do their part to protect this important population of fish”, added the wildlife department.
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