Fisheries Resources
Pacific Region

Pacific Lamprey

Life History

Shortly after hatching in freshwater streams, lamprey larvae or ammocoetes drift downstream into areas of low velocity and fine substrates where they burrow, and live as filter feeders for up to 7 years. Metamorphosis to macropthalmia (juvenile phase) occurs gradually over several months from July to November before their migration to the ocean in the winter and early spring. During this transformation they develop eyes and teeth. As adults in the ocean, Pacific Lamprey are parasitic and feed on the body fluids and blood of marine fishes. After spending 1 to 3 years in the marine environment, Pacific Lamprey stop feeding and migrate back to freshwater between February and June. They overwinter in fresh water until they spawn the following year between March and July. After spawning, lamprey die within days.

On Our Website You Can:

Learn about the Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative

Join the Pacific Lamprey Geocaching Adventure: Travel bugs have been launched in the Pacific Northwest in four different locations. One lamprey travel bug is hiding in a geocache somewhere along the mouth of the Columbia River at a historic site in Washington. Another is hiding somewhere in a culturally-signfiicant and historical site on Yakama Nation land in Toppenish. Two more are soon to be adventuring around the Portland area and Clearwater Basin in Idaho. Check back soon for links.


Education & Outreach
A girl photographs a lamprey at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Credit: Dave Herasimtschuk

For Kids

Lamprey in the News

8/7/14 Latest fishing clash between Oregon, Native American tribes is dispute dismissed    

7/17/14 Lamprey on the rise    

7/2/14 (Spokesman Review) Return tags in salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey for $25    

7/1/14 Biologist studies effects of lampreys on salmon species    

6/9/14 Oregon Field Guide: Pacific Lamprey    

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Last updated: August 12, 2014

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