The Pacific Lamprey

The Pacific Lamprey


from July to September

Minimum size

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The Pacific Lamprey belongs to the Petromyzontidae family. The adult size of the pacific lamprey can reach 80 cm. It can live up to 5 years. The spawning period depends on the location. It can be caught between July and September when it enters freshwater.
The Pacific Lamprey differs from other lamprey species in that it has three large, sharp anterior teeth located on the supraoral bar. Like all lampreys, they have seven breathable pores on each side of their bodies and a large suction disc that acts as a mouth. They are dark blue at the top and silver or white at the bottom. During the breeding season, Pacific lampreys turn reddish brown and the appearance of the sexes begins to differentiate as a pseudo-anal fin develops on the female. Their larvae are difficult to distinguish from those of other lamprey species.

The Pacific Lamprey lifestyle

During their larval stage, Pacific lampreys feed on filters and consume algae and detritus. Adults are parasites, clinging to their prey with their oral discs and consuming their blood and other body fluids. They feed on salmonids and various other fish, as well as several species of whales.
Although the adult and juvenile stages are more visible, lampreys spend most of their lives as larvae (ammocetes). After the larval period, ammocetes metamorphose and adopt the morphology of the juvenile / adult body. Juveniles / adults have a jawless mouth that resembles a suction cup that allows them to become parasitic on other fish and sperm whales, to attach themselves with their suction cups and to feed on blood and body fluids. Adults live in the ocean for at least one to two years and then return to fresh water to reproduce. It is not known whether Pacific lampreys return to their natural watercourses or search for spawning grounds based on other signals. They generally spawn in habitat similar to Pacific salmon and trout. Lampreys build a nest in a small gravel and females can lay more than 100,000 eggs, which are fertilized from the outside by the male. After spawning, adults generally die within four days. In addition, like salmon, the Pacific lamprey do not feed when they migrate to spawn.

The Pacific lamprey habitat

The Pacific lamprey, is an anadromous species. They spend the middle of their lives in the Pacific Ocean and their first and last years in freshwater habitats. Pacific lampreys can be found in all parts of the Pacific, from Hokkaido Island to Baja California and Japan.

The Pacific Lamprey angling

Most usually, they are caught by accident when fishing for over fish. It can be caught by hand-carved wooden hooks.

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