My Scientific Name
By the Numbers
As adults, we lamprey range in size from about 15 to 25 inches. We have been caught in depths ranging from 300 to 2,600 feet, and as far as 62 miles off the west coast of the United States!
How to Identify Me
I belong to a primitive group of fishes that are eel-like in form but that lack the jaws and paired fins of true fishes. I have a round, sucker-like mouth, no scales, and seven breathing holes on each side of my body instead of gills. I also don’t have any bones; my backbone is made of cartilage, like the stuff that makes up your ear!
Why I Matter and What's Been Happening
I am an important food source other fish, birds, and marine animals. I am also part of the Columbia River tribal culture, and I am used in ‘first fish’ ceremonies and celebrations. The distribution of my species has been reduced in many rivers throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. Luckily scientists and conservation groups, including tribes and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are working hard to help rebuild lamprey populations and restore our habitat.
Some of the best ways to conserve and protect my species include installing special Lamprey Passage Systems that allow us to pass over dams, since we can’t use the traditional fish ladders designed for jumping fish. Protecting habitat for larval lamprey --like being careful not to dredge areas where larval lamprey might be living in river bottoms, or making sure stream channels have plenty of water and places for lamprey to hide, is also really important.