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Sea Lamprey

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Sea lamprey
Sea lamprey, adult - Photo by Lee Emery; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Scientific Name: 
Petromyzon marinus (Linnaeus, 1758) (ITIS)
Common Name: 
Sea Lamprey
Native To: 
Atlantic Ocean (NAS Database)
Date of U.S. Introduction: 
First discovered in Lake Ontario in 1835 (though whether or not it is native to Lake Ontario is disputed); first discovered in Lake Erie in 1921 (NAS Database)
Means of Introduction: 
Spread into the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal (NAS Database)
Preys on native species (NAS Database)
Current U.S. Distribution: 
Great Lakes


Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission today reported that populations of the invasive, parasitic sea lamprey remain at near-historic lows, below targets, in Lakes Michigan and Ontario, and above target, but holding steady, in Lakes Huron, Superior and Erie. Sea lamprey populations in Lake Huron are close to target levels and have been holding steady for the past five years. Abundances in Lakes Superior and Erie remain above target but have also decreased significantly since the near-record highs observed in 2017. Sea lampreys are the worst of the alien species to invade the Great Lakes. Before control, sea lampreys destroyed many times the human fish catch. Today, sea lamprey control is the foundation of the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery. The Commission and its partners are encouraged by the overall decrease in abundance of sea lampreys throughout the Great Lakes basin during 2019, but caution that environmental conditions, such as a prolonged spring and high precipitation events, contributed to the decrease.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.
Provides detailed collection information as well as animated map.


University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Great Lakes Fishery Commission.


Google. YouTube; Voice of America.

Google. YouTube; Wisconsin First Detector Network.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Sea Lamprey.

Council or Task Force
Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.

Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program (Canada).

Texas State University System. Texas Invasive Species Institute.
Federal Government
DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.
Provides distribution maps and collection information (State and County).
State and Local Government

New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


Pennsylvania State University. Pennsylvania Sea Grant.

See also: Aquatic Invasive Species: Resources for additional species information

Columbia University. Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Invasive Species Centre (Ontario).

Great Lakes Fishery Commission.