Sea Lamprey spawning sites have been discovered in the River Wear at Chester-le-Street, County Durham, by local anglers. After being alerted by the fishermen, the Environment Agency found no less than 12 spawning sites, known as redds, measuring up to a metre across.

We were thrilled to discover lampreys back in the River Wear as these rare blood-suckers show us that the water quality in the river is very high“, says Environment Agency fisheries officer Paul Frear. “Lampreys are extremely selective with their spawning sites and will only nest where the water quality is optimal. Today, only three species of this blood-sucking creature remain in Britain and their habitats are protected by an EC directive.”

The lamprey feeds by attaching itself to another animal with its suction-cup like mouth and, once in place, gradually rasps away tissue from its host. The largest specimens are roughly 100 cm long, but most lampreys are smaller than this.

If you see a lamprey or a lamprey redd (nest) in the UK, please report the sighting directly to Paul Frear by e-mailing him at paul.frear@environment-agency.gov.uk.

As reported earlier, invasive sea lampreys have caused serious problems in North America where they lack natural enemies.

Lamprey fish Giant underwater blood suckers making a comeback
Picture is from North America where the lamprey have caused serious problems.