Sea Lamprey Celebrate Their 100 Year Great Lakes Anniversary

Originally seen in Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review

An anniversary that just about everyone in Ontario would like to forget, the invasive Sea Lamprey has reached 100 years in its terrorizing of the Great Lakes.

As their name would suggest, Sea Lampreys are native to the sea and have only been residing in the freshwater of the Great Lakes for, as of this week, 100 years. Their invasion was a result of the creation of canals that allowed them to enter New York’s Finger Lakes in the late-1800s. Although this, even at the time, was thought to be dangerously close to the Great Lakes, officials assured the public that Niagara Falls would provide the ultimate Sea Lamprey barrier and would make reaching the Great Lakes an impossibility.

This remained true for the remainder of the late 18′ and early 1900s, however, the renovation of the Welland Canal soon gave them a way around the falls and, in November of 1921, the first Lamprey was found, attached to a Whitefish, in Lake Ontario.

Since then, the lamprey has not looked back and has become one of the greatest menaces that swim our waters – from Lake Erie all the way to Lake Superior. Lake Trout were perhaps the greatest sufferers of this invasion with populations plummeting in Lake Ontario and virtually disappearing in Lake Erie.

Thankfully, thanks to extensive culling efforts that included near chemical warfare and nearly $25 million dollars per year, Laprey numbers are thought to be down nearly 90% and the Lake Trout numbers are back on the rise.

A lamprey-free Lake Ontario Lake Trout caught by our editor, Dean Taylor, this spring

This excerpt was taken from Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review, our weekly recap of all things relevant to the Canadian outdoorsman. For more stories like this, check out the full article below and tune back in every Friday to catch up on everything you missed!

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