Giant blood sucker found in River Wear

A lamprey

A lamprey

First published in News

A RARE blood-sucking fish said to have been responsible for the deaths of two English kings has been found in a North-East river.

The Environment Agency has confirmed reports from local anglers that the River Wear at Chester-le-Street, County Durham, has become a spawning site for lamprey.

So far the Environment Agency has identified 12 spawning sites, known as redds, which measure up to a metre across, and a total of seven adult Sea Lampreys have been spotted in them.

Scientists are continuing to search for more of the jawless fish as they are extremely rare and provide a good indication of the high quality of the river water.

Paul Frear, Environment Agency fisheries officer, said: "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. 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 is an unusual creature, using its suction-cup like mouth to attach itself to the skin of a fish and rasping away tissue with its sharp probing tongue and teeth.

Outwardly resembling eels, as they have no scales, an adult Lamprey can range from 13 to 100 centimetres long, with large eyes, one nostril on the top of its head and seven gill pores on each side.

During the Middle Ages lampreys were widely eaten by the upper classes throughout Europe, especially during fasting periods since they taste much meatier than other fish.

A "surfeit of Lampreys'' has traditionally been blamed for the deaths of King Henry I and King John who overindulged in them.

The River Wear provides an excellent habitat for these protected creatures and anglers who spot any lampreys are asked to report their sighting to the Environment Agency by e-mailing paul.frear@environment-agency.gov.uk

Comments (4)

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5:08pm Thu 25 Jun 09

BMD says...

The House of Commons and The House of Lords are two other major site's for BLOOD-SUCKERS!
The House of Commons and The House of Lords are two other major site's for BLOOD-SUCKERS! BMD
  • Score: 1

5:37pm Thu 25 Jun 09

Keith Fisher says...

I agree with BMD --- is it coincidental that when such creatures are exposed to prosecution in the WC Area of the Thames they re-appear in The Wear.

I'm glad that we don't have a river in Hartlepool because we have a home grown New Labour bloodsucker here already
I agree with BMD --- is it coincidental that when such creatures are exposed to prosecution in the WC Area of the Thames they re-appear in The Wear. I'm glad that we don't have a river in Hartlepool because we have a home grown New Labour bloodsucker here already Keith Fisher
  • Score: 0

7:37pm Fri 26 Jun 09

Super steve says...

Snigger, I thought the header was about our Labour MPs again
Snigger, I thought the header was about our Labour MPs again Super steve
  • Score: 0

11:42pm Fri 26 Jun 09

cj-dog says...

Nasty looking trouser-snake!
Nasty looking trouser-snake! cj-dog
  • Score: 0

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