The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 7, 2014

U.S. Fish and Wildlife will look for lampreys in Conneaut Creek

CONNEAUT — A survey team from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be in the area later this month to take a census of a notorious Great Lakes predator.

The crew wants to know how many sea lamprey exist in Conneaut Creek, according to a statement. Their findings could determine if the creek, a world-renown fishing destination, needs lamprey control.

Surveys are conducted in hundreds of Great Lakes streams every year, according to the statement.

Lampreys are eel-like creatures that attach themselves to fish with a suction cup mouth and feed on blood and body fluid. Lampreys can destroy upwards of 40 pounds of fish each during its parasitic phase, according to the statement.

The team is scheduled to work offshore of the creek June 18-25. Members generally will use electrofishing technique to bring the lamprey larvae to the surface, but in deeper water use a special larvicide that is formulated onto sand granules and covered with a time-release coating. The substance is sprayed onto a measured surface of water, where it sinks to the bottom, dissolves and causes lamprey larvae to abandon their burrows and swim to the surface — where they are collected.

The lampricide poses no risk to people or the environment when used at levels sufficient to flush out lamprey, according to the release. Permits from the state of Ohio regulate the applications.

Conneaut Creek has been treated at least eight times for lampreys since 1986, according to news reports.

Sea lampreys debuted in the Great Lakes in the 1920s, according to the statement. Chemical control of sea lampreys began in 1958, and treatment has been credited with maintaining the Great Lakes’ $7 billion sport and commercial fisheries.

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