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Lampreys

Pacific Lamprey

Sea Lamprey

Lampreys Petromyzontidae

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The Northern Hemisphere lampreys, family Petromyzontidae, include eight genera with 34 species. They all occur in cool zones generally north of 30°N. Both anadromous and strictly freshwater species are included. They can have parasitic and nonparasitic forms.

The Arctic lamprey Lethenteron camtschaticum is distributed primarily in the arctic region and extends southward into the North Pacific and eastern North Atlantic. Two boreal species have ranges extending into the arctic region: Pacific lamprey Entosphenus tridentatus from the North Pacific and sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus from the North Atlantic.

Eggs hatch into blind larvae called ammocoetes that burrow into the sand and feed by filtering microorganisms and fine debris from the water. They transform after 3–7 years into adults complete with teeth, eyes, fins, and other changes. Nonparasitic forms after metamorphosis live off their body reserves, reproduce, and die.

Parasitic lampreys feed on the flesh or blood and other body fluids of other fishes, sharks, and whales, before returning to streams to reproduce and die.

Page Author: CW Mecklenburg & TA Mecklenburg
Created: Jan 27, 2011

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