Sea Lamprey : Great Lakes Aquarium
Sea Lamprey

Sea Lamprey

Exhibits: Aquatic Invaders

Animal Groups: Fish

Latin Name: Petromyzon marinus

As larvae or young fish, sea lamprey feed on algae, microscopic invertebrates and dead matter on the stream bottom. When lamprey are mature adults, they feed on the tissue and blood of other fish. They are considered parasitic for much of their life. Lamprey use their sucking mouth and rows of teeth to pierce the skin of their prey.


Sea lamprey are native to the Atlantic Ocean. They are an invasive fish in the Great Lakes region and other inland waters.

There are three native species of lamprey (smaller in size and impact on fisheries) in Great Lakes waters.

Animal Size: 24 inches (60 cm)

Natural History

There are many species of lamprey around the world. Their size and role in fisheries dynamics varies in each location. In some places, lamprey are caught and eaten by people.

Lamprey are an ancient form of fish, the agnathids. They lack a jaw or skeleton.