New York creek has a 'vampire' problem

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New York's Got a Vampire Problem

A New York creek has a vampire problem.

"They're a couple feet long, very, very different. They are fish, no connection to eels, though they do look similar," reported WKBW's Matt Bové.

They're called sea lampreys, though it's easy to see why some folks refer to them as vampire fish. They've been around for hundreds of millions of years, though their presence in waters near the Great Lakes is a little more recent.

And they've apparently become a problem for the fish in Western New York's Cayuga Creek. Our partners at WKBW have more.

"They latch onto other fish. They then suck the blood of other fish. And get this: In their adult lifetime, which is about 18 months long, they take down — alone — about 40 to 60 pounds of fish," reported WKBW's Matt Bové.

sea lamprey vampires
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New York creek has a 'vampire' problem
Sea Lamprey Mouth
In this photo taken July 16, 2010, a scientist with the Hammond Bay Biological Station near Huron Beach, Mich., holds a female sea lamprey. The lamprey uses its disk-shaped mouth and sharp teeth to fasten onto fish and suck out their bodily fluids. (AP Photo/John Flesher)
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), Cayuga Lake, New York, parasitic lamprey found on Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth, Germany, Rhine, Iffezheim
sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), swimming over gravel, Germany, Baden-Wuerttemberg
sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), portrait, Germany
Sea Lamprey
Sea Lamprey at their Mating Grounds
Sea lamprey traps often produce by-catch. This native silver lamprey was found in the trap and released back into the St. Mary's River.

To control the lampreys, WKBW reports members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada will apply lampricides — chemicals that specifically target lampreys' ability to reproduce — to area creeks later this week.

The vampire fish problem isn't unique to New York's Cayuga Creek, either. Michigan's Traverse City treats its own creeks to control lamprey populations as well. The invasive fish can be found in all five Great Lakes.

And for anyone worried about taking a dip in waters full of lampreys, worry not: They don't bite humans.

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