‘Fish vampires’ attaching to trout in the Great Lakes

FOX 17 –

A 12-year project at Michigan State University has set out to learn just how invasive species affect the Great Lakes, and its trout population.

It took multiple Graduate students years to see how Sea Lamprey- also known as Vampire Fish- affect the ecosystem.

The lamprey, which are an invasive species, use sharp teeth to latch onto fish and suck their blood.

At MSU, they’ve been studying the affects the lamprey have on trout in the Great Lakes.  Student Tyler Firkus housed some trout at a lab in Wisconsin, and throughout the project, he let the lamprey attach to the fish for four days or less. Any longer than that, and they would die.

“We know that most of them will die when they are being attacked by a sea lamprey, but do the ones that survive still act like normal individuals in the population?” said Firkus.

Firkus worked with his PH-D advisor, Cheryl Murphy to answer that question.

“Yeah it requires a certain type of pioneering mindset I think,” said Murphy, an Associate Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife. “And then you have really good people that work on it like Tyler, and it’s just a challenging project but its been really great to see it and we’re getting really good results along the way.”

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