The sea lamprey has been found in Lake Champlain in northern Vermont and this species of fish feeds on the blood of others.
Pop culture and literature have painted vampires in such a light that we think about blood-sucking monsters whenever we hear anything remotely close to vampires. But, in reality, when we think to look for species closer to vampires or posses some vampiristic qualities, they are far from the characters we generally perceive. The sea lamprey, an eel-like creature that is commonly known as 'vampire fish' by people, has been spotted at Vermont, reported CNN.
Usually, this species is generally called nuisance species by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife because they survive by feeding off of others by attaching to their bodies and sucking out blood and other body fluids to survive. State officials also said they have managed to contain the most threatening sea lamprey population in Lake Champlain near the Canadian border.
A less-threatening species of sea lamprey has been found widely around the state, especially around the area of Connecticut River and its tributaries reported Miami Herald. State officials also mentioned that unlike the Lake Champlain lampreys, the ones found near the state's rivers do not pose any danger to the other fish population and actually play a very important role in maintaining the area's ecosystem.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife's Lael Will took to Facebook and wrote, "Sea lamprey are native to the Connecticut River basin and play a vital role in the ecosystem. 'If you happen to see a spawning sea lamprey or a lamprey carcass, don’t be alarmed. The fish provide a number of important ecological benefits and are considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in both Vermont and New Hampshire."
Their numbers increase significantly every spring, but most of them die shortly after spawning and their carcasses become a good source of food for other marine animals and birds in the area. Some younger larval lampreys can stay in their sedentary state for as long as five years, staying burrowed beneath the river beds where they slowly filter out small food particles from the water.
Once they reach their maturity, these vampire fishes swim back downstream to the Atlantic Ocean and spend most of their lives feeding off the blood of other fishes. In the past, because of their parasitic habit, sea lampreys have had a devastating impact on the freshwater fish population. The impact has been so severe that it has been reported that one sea lamprey is capable of killing an average of 40 pounds of fish in a year.
Even though sea lampreys are known to survive on the blood and body fluids of the host, they are not known to attack humans, says Vermont Fish & Wildlife. Back in the 1940s, a sea lamprey invasion took place in the Great Lakes that almost wiped out the trout fishing industry. The species has been dubbed as vampire fish because of its circular mouth and sharp teeth that allow the fish to feed on the decomposed matter and other marine organisms.
While young sea lampreys usually prey on other marine organisms, adult sea lampreys are non-parasitic when they return every spring to spawn. The post also mentioned, "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.”