When I was growing up in the 1960s, Lakes Michigan beaches were littered with the carcasses of rotting alewives, an invasive species of fish that swarmed the Great Lakes at the time. Little did I know that the sea lamprey, another interloper, was responsible for the overpopulation of the small silvery fish. The parasitic lamprey had wiped out most of the whitefish and trout that would normally have eaten the alewives. (p. vii)
In its native habitat, the sea lamprey fits neatly into the saltwater ecosystem. It sucks blood from the host fish while the fish swims merrily along. But freshwater fish have no ability for this symbiotic relationship — and they usually die from a sea lamprey attack. The author works for the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center and studies the lamprey in an attempt to control it.
The snorkel-nosed nuisance on the cover of this book looks like something out of bad science fiction. Fortunately, energetic scientists and conservationists like the author are doing their part to eliminate this alien creature from the Great Lakes.
Great Lakes Sea Lamprey: The 70 Year War on a Biological Invader
by Cory Brant
QL638.25 .P48 B73 2019