Friday, 27 June 2014

Sea Lamprey of the Chalk Streams

I've been a bit behind on the blog front having been filming for a new TV series for the past few weeks and when i got home i received a phone call from a river keeper on the Hampshire test about a species I've been wanting to photograph for years, the sea lamprey.

Not technically a fish but still classed under chordata, these primitive vertebrates spend most of there lives out at sea feeding off the blood of sharks, big fish and even cetaceans. They are the largest of the three species we have in the UK, Brook Lamprey being the smallest at 6in, River Lamprey the middle one around 10in - 16in (I'm still yet to photograph one of these) and the leviathan from the deeps the sea lamprey reaching a whooping 47in.

Despite its blood thirsty feeding habits they are surprisingly caring lovers with the male moving his mouth up the females back to encourage her to release eggs. I noticed other fish would wait behind the redd looking for dislodged inverts and lamprey eggs such as grayling, mullet and chub.

They don't stick around for long so as soon as i got the phone call i was there the next day in the water, they prefer quit fast moving water so wouldn't recommend going after these guys alone as one slip and i would of been floating down stream for a while!

This is a spent lamprey which is a bit battered and bruised after spawning and will most likely die much like pacific salmon do after spawning. These might not be the most beautiful fish species but i think that are absolutely incredible.

I also shot quite a bit of video of them spawning which I'm saving for something else but here's a exclusive sneak peak at it.

Sea Lamprey Sneak Peak

BBC Wildlife Local Patch Reporter
Jack Perks

Facebook: Jack Perks Photography

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