Crews to survey Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers to find lamprey - WNEM TV 5

Crews to survey Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers to find lampreys

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The fight against sea lampreys is coming to Mid-Michigan

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assessment crew will conduct work in Bay, Midland, and Saginaw counties during July 12 through July 21. The assessment is to estimate the number of lampreys in the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers.

The data will be used to determine a need for control against the lamprey.

The first step is to survey streams tributary to the Great Lakes to find the presence of lamprey larvae. The creatures invaded the Great Lakes during the 1920s and have been a permanent, destructive element of the fishery ever since, according to the USFWS.

Sea lampreys attach to fish with a suction cup mouth, rasp a hole though the fish’s scales and skin, and feed on blood and body fluids. The average sea lamprey will destroy up to 40 pounds of fish during its parasitic phase, the USFWS said.

The larvae hatch from eggs laid by adult lampreys in nests and drift into silty bottom areas where they burrow and live for several years. Also, larvae sometimes drift out of streams and settle in the offshore areas near stream mouths.

The USFWS fear the lamprey will kill off fish in the Great Lakes.

Fishery biologists conduct surveys for sea lamprey larvae in hundreds of Great Lakes streams each year.

The sea lamprey control program is formulated and implemented by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, in partnership with the USFWS, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Geological Survey. The Commission initiated chemical control of sea lampreys in 1958. Since that time the highly successful program has contributed significantly to the maintenance of the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fisheries.

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