Ludington Biological Station and the
Sea Lamprey Control Program
BY JEFF SLADE, LUDINGTON BIOLOGICAL STATION
sucker mouth. Credit: Ted Lawrence, Great Lakes
Fishery Commission Secretariat. Credit: USFWS
The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is a destructive invasive species in the Great Lakes that contributed to the collapse of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and other native species in the mid-20th century and continues to affect efforts to restore and rehabilitate the fish-community. Sea lampreys attach to fish and extract blood and body fluids. It is estimated that about half of sea lamprey attacks result in the death of their prey and an estimated 18 kg (40 lbs) of fish are killed by every sea lamprey that reaches adulthood. The Sea Lamprey Control Program (SLCP) is administered by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (Commission) and implemented by two control agents: the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The Ludington Biological Station is one of two Service field stations responsible for developing, planning and implementing the SLCP in U.S. waters of the Great Lakes, the other being located in Marquette, Michigan. The SLCP is a critical component of fisheries management in the Great Lakes because it facilitates the rehabilitation of important fish stocks by significantly reducing sea lamprey-induced mortality.
sea lampreys in the Big Manistee River. Credit: Ludington
Biological Station. Credit: USFWS
The Ludington Biological Station (LBS) was established in 1956 and is located near the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan in Ludington, Michigan. The primary responsibilities of the LBS are to direct, implement and evaluate SLCP activities in tributaries and lentic areas located along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, western shore of Lake Huron, and U.S. shore of Lake Erie. Our larval assessment team consists of nine permanent and two temporary employees and our lampricide control team consists of 14 permanent and three temporary employees. Field teams are supported by a four person administrative staff. The larval assessment team uses backpack electrofishers and lampricides to determine the distribution of larval sea lampreys in infested areas, detect new populations of larval sea lampreys, estimate the density and size structure of larval sea lamprey populations, establish application locations for lampricide treatments, and to evaluate the effectiveness of barriers and lampricide treatments. The lampricide control team periodically treats tributaries harboring sea lamprey larvae with lampricides that eliminate or reduce larval populations before they recruit to the lake as juvenile lampreys and feed on host fishes. Specialized equipment and techniques are employed to provide concentrations of lampricides that eliminate approximately 95% of the sea lamprey larvae, while minimizing the risk to non-target organisms.
lampricides to the Pere Marquette River to kill larval sea
lampreys. Credit: Ludington Biological Station.
The LBS also houses the primary facility for storing the lampricides used to control sea lamprey populations in U.S. waters of the Great Lakes. Our lampricide storage facility is capable of holding about a one year supply of lampricides needed for a typical year of lampricide treatments in the entire Great Lakes.We work closely with partners to educate the public regarding the impact and management of aquatic invasive species and control populations of sea lampreys in tributaries of the Great Lakes to protect the fishery and related economic activities in the basin (an estimated annual benefit of more than $7 billion/year to the region).