Pre-historic 'vampire' fish found
A terrier called Bonny horrified her owners when she made a grim discovery on Caister beach this week.The 18-month-old Patterdale is noted for rooting amongst the flotsam and jetsam but even marine experts at Great Yarmouth Sea Life centre were amazed by her find of a rare sea lamprey on Wednesday.
A terrier called Bonny horrified her owners when she made a grim discovery on Caister beach this week.
The 18-month-old Patterdale is noted for rooting amongst the flotsam and jetsam but even marine experts at Great Yarmouth Sea Life centre were amazed by her find of a rare sea lamprey on Wednesday.
Bonny was enjoying a walk with Sam Johnson, 13, of Victoria Street, Caister, when he picked up the 15in pre-historic blood-sucking “vampire” fish on the shoreline.
“Sam took it home with him, but neither his dad nor a local fisherman could identify it, so they brought it here,” said Sea Life senior marine biologist Darren Gook.
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“I could see it was a lamprey of some kind, and a quick check in the reference books confirmed it as a sea lamprey,” he added.
“They are pretty rare creatures these days and I've certainly never heard of one turning up off our local coast.”
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Sea lampreys are parasitic beasts that attack larger fish and fasten onto them with sucker-like mouths lined with
They scrape a hole in the skin and suck out blood and grated flesh, and
an anti-coagulant in their saliva
prevents the victim's blood from
“They used to be a delicacy,” said Darren, “but they've largely disappeared because a lot of their migration routes from rivers and streams to ocean spawning grounds have been blocked by dams and in some cases, hydro-electric power stations.”
Darren cut open the lamprey to clean it ready to preserve in formaldehyde, and discovered that it was an egg-laden female.
“I guess this was another individual that, for whatever reason, never made it to those spawning grounds,” he said.
“Even though many would consider it to be quite a gruesome fish, I think that's actually quite sad.”