War against sea lamprey may take new direction

There is evidence to suggest that it’s going to become more difficult, and potentially, more expensive, to wage war against what might be considered the grandfather of all invasive species: The sea lamprey.

As detailed in a recent Associated Press story, federal scientists have determined that the pesky invader may have established a self-sustaining population in Michigan’s Inland Waterway, a downstate nearly 40-mile-long chain of lakes and rivers.

If that’s true, it would be the first confirmed case in the Great Lakes region of the invasive lampreys spending their entire life cycle in an inland waterway network instead of migrating to one of the lakes after reaching adulthood, AP reported.

Sea lampreys, native to the Atlantic, reached the Great Lakes through shipping canals in the past century and feasted on trout and other prized species, AP stated. The eel-like predators fasten their round, disk-like mouths, rimmed with razor-sharp teeth, to the sides of fish and suck their blood.

The findings, from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hammond Bay Biological Station on Lake Huron, are preliminary. But if further research proves them true, state and federal officials will likely ask for additional funds to open a new front – inland lakes – in the ongoing war against the lamprey.

We encourage and support a thorough investigation, which must serve as a precursor to additional funding requests. Only then could a case be made for approval of new money in the war against the sea lamprey.