These aren’t mini-versions of sarlacs, though their mouths lined with rings of teeth would say otherwise. These are lagreys, and they’re closer to home than you think.
The sea lamphrey, of which there are many different types, have been around for more than 350 million years, originating in the Northern Hemisphere. Their long and wriggly bodies resemble eels while their mouths are round and suctioned, with rows of sharp teeth for boring into their prey, usually smaller fish. It’s how they got the name vampire-fish, for the way they latch onto their victims and suck their blood and bodily fluids which will kill them in the process. This isn’t good for the fish industry in the Great Lakes and is why the sea lampreys are considered an invasive species.
The TRCA_HQ even reported an early invasion of the species, catching up to 7,000 in Humber River. Warning, the video you’re about to see might give you the ick.
Where they originate, the East Coast and Western Europe, they’re able to co-exist peacefully in their environment but they’re a menace to the Great Lakes and have been found throughout them and in Toronto’s rivers. Likely they were able to migrate to the Great Lakes from canals constructed by humans and have since caused a great deal of issues for fisherman’s and the fishing industry.
Huge efforts to stop them have been underway since the 1950s with lampricides (a pesticide that isn’t harmful to other fish) being dumped in the oceans and now, sea lampreys kill less than 10 million pounds of fish where before it was actually 100 million!
Thankfully, despite how scary and sci-fi like these fish are–something out of a galaxy far, far away–there’s no reason to fear being bitten as they don’t typically attack humans. Still, keep your eyes peeled in case you ever spot one.