Cephalaspidomorphi (lampreys) > Petromyzontiformes
(Lampreys) > Petromyzontidae
(Northern lampreys) > Petromyzontinae
Etymology: Petromyzon: Latin, petra = stone + greek, myzon = to suckle (Ref. 45335); marinus: Specific epithet means "pertaining to the sea", in Latin.. More on author: Linnaeus.
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; freshwater; brackish; demersal; anadromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 1 - 4099 m (Ref. 47198). Temperate; 1°C - 20°C (Ref. 88713); 72°N - 25°N, 82°W - 27°E
Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 120 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 5723); common length : 60.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 4645); max. published weight: 2.5 kg (Ref. 5504); max. reported age: 11 years (Ref. 12324)
Vertebrae: 0. Anguilliform body (Ref. 51442). Jawless with a round sucker-like mouth and sharp teeth arranged in many consecutive circular rows (Ref. 88171). Presence of 7 branchial openings behind the eye (Ref. 51442, 88171). It lacks paired fins (Ref. 88171). Number of myomeres: 67-74 (Ref. 6258). Olive or brown-yellow on the dorsal and lateral part of the body, with black marblings; becomes lighter ventrally (Ref. 35388, 51442, 58137).
Northeast Atlantic: Norway including Iceland and the Barents Sea, south to northern Africa. Throughout the western and central Mediterranean but absent from eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (Ref. 59043). Western Atlantic: Labrador, Canada to Gulf of Mexico in Florida, USA. Landlocked in Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, Oneida Lake and Lake Champlain, Canada/USA (Ref. 12269). Appendix III of the Bern Convention (2002). Annex II (excluding Swedish population) of the EC Habitats Directive (2007).
Amphihaline species making important migrations. Spends its adult life in the sea for about 20-36 months, moving further offshore as it grows (Ref. 59043). Adults are parasitic, using their sharp teeth to attach themselves to cetaceans and large fish and feed off their host’s blood, body fluids and flesh for several days, usually without killing the host (Ref. 59043). An anticoagulant substance prevents the blood of the prey from clotting. Mature adults enter rivers and streams to spawn in spring (Ref. 12324, 35387, 88186). Movements from the sea to spawning sites may cover distances from 20-850 km inland (Ref. 12324). After spawning adults normally die (Ref. 51442). Ammocoetes drift downstream and bury in detritus-rich mud, silt or sand-silt bottoms (Ref. 59043, 88712) for 5.5-8 years, often at the edges of rivers and streams where currents are slow (Ref. 58185, 59043, 88184). Ammocoetes are filter feeders of diatoms and detritus (Ref. 30578, 51442, 59043). Upon metamorphosis, individuals move downstream towards the sea. Juveniles remain in the estuaries and shallow coastal areas for a feeding period lasting 23-28 months, during which they grow from ca. 4 to 900 g (Ref. 58185, 88171). The may not only feed on dead or netted fish, but also attach themselves to healthy fish. The landlocked form is very destructive to freshwater fishes and occasionally annoys bathers by clinging to them (Ref. 51442). Most individuals attain 60-75 cm length (Ref. 88187).
Hardisty, M.W., 1986. Petromyzon marinus (Linnaeus 1758). p. 94-116. In J. Holcík (ed.) The Freshwater fishes of Europe. Vol. 1, Part 1. Petromyzontiformes.
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: minor commercial
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 1.0000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 4.4 ±0.85 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (K 0.16; tm=5-12; Relative Fec = 233).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): High to very high vulnerability (72 of 100) .