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Biologists Seek To Fight Lampreys With Smell

Lake Michigan (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Lake Michigan (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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Invasive Species Have Decimated Trout, Other Fish

HURON BEACH, Mich. (CBS) – Great Lakes biologists hope to make progress in the fight against the invasive sea lamprey by taking advantage of the eel-like fish’s keen sense of smell.

Researchers at the Hammond Bay Biological Station on Lake Huron are testing mating pheromones, which are scents emitted by male lampreys to attract females. They’re also working on scents that smell like baby lampreys or rotting lamprey flesh.

They hope to use the scents to trap and poison the lampreys, which entered the Great Lakes in the last century and decimated trout and other prized species. Keeping lampreys under control costs more than $20 million a year.

The sea lamprey is a member of the Agnatha superclass of fish, and is jawless. The lampreys have circular rows of teeth on their mouths, and attach to other fish by boring holes in their sides and feeding on blood and bodily fluids, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The sea lamprey is naturally found in coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean, including the East Coast of the United States. But the fish was first spotted as an invasive species in Lake Michigan in 1936, the department said.

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