Monday, 19 January 2015

Day 79 - Looky-likey Lampreys

Hi everyone,

Well I was puzzling over what I could do today that might be a little different, so I was looking through my photos from walks in the summer and I came across these. At first I wasn't sure what they were and thought they might be baby eels which is why the title is looky-likey as they looky-likey an eel - it's bad I know but there aren't many alliterative words for Lampreys that fit lol :-).

I found out these are actually Brook Lampreys!
Brook Lamprey (Lampetra Planeri)

Lampreys are very interesting creatures as I found out in my research, here's a few facts I found out:

  • They look like eels but they are actually jaw-less fish! 
  • They belong to a very primitive group of fish that have a round sucker, instead of a mouth with teeth and jaws. Fossil records show that they haven't changed much in 300 million years!
  • They are dark blue/green and paler underneath, and they have no fins.
  • The most common type of Lamprey is the Brook Lamprey pictured here. This is also the smallest type and its numbers are in decline. 
  • It's usually found in clear, freshwater streams with gravel, sand or silt beds for spawning and indicates healthy and high quality rivers. We saw some in a stream at Silton Forest which is close to where we live.

    • Found throughout the UK, but with more in England and Wales, and less in the highlands of Scotland. Seems I may have been lucky to see them in North Yorkshire as they're not as common as in other areas as you can see in a map at the Defra website.
      Another one in a different pool
    • They have an unusual life cycle. When the adults spawn (have their babies), they then die :-(. The larvae (baby Lampreys) don’t have eyes or a sucker mouth when they are born but instinctively know to bury themselves in the river bed where they filter-feed (on algae etc) and they stay like this until they are old enough to have grown the sucker mouth and eyes, usually around 3-5 years old, when they then start looking for a mate and the cycle starts over. 
    • They can grow to a maximum of 20 cm but are usually around 16 cm. The oldest recorded lamprey was 7 years old! If you see one that is much longer (25-40 cm), it is probably the River Lamprey.
    • The Brook Lamprey as an adult doesn't feed, but other species, there are around 50 different species of Lamprey, are parasites and attach themselves to fish or marine mammals by suction before they start to suck out living tissue - nice!
    Here's a few sites if you want to find out more about these remarkable creatures:

    Hope you enjoyed,


    No comments:

    Post a Comment