Tour guide Sean Blocksidge has extraordinarily discovered six of the lampreys – dubbed “living dinosaurs” – at ONCE, after two decades of research.
The strange jawless creatures evolved millions of years ago and have elongated scaleless bodies as well as a specialized mouth known as a sucker.
They have a reputation for swallowing the blood of their prey, which earned them the nickname “vampire fish”.
Sean, 49, had heard local legends in Margaret River, Australia, about the elusive lampreys migrating to local waterfalls, but said they had not been sighted for 10 years.
He likened his relentless search to finding a “yeti or the Loch Ness monster” – and couldn’t believe his luck when he spotted half a dozen of them.
“It was kind of a surreal moment. I had heard so many stories from the elders about how lampreys migrated by the thousands in the waterfalls, ”the Australian explained.
“But we haven’t seen them in our Margaret River system for over a decade.
“I am on the river everyday on a tour with the canoes and I always hope to spot one, but it was my lucky day.
“Yes, I was a little excited – and also excited to know that they’re still here. “
The 49-year-old told how he found the rare lamprey at Yalgardup Falls, a place where he and his tour groups regularly stop.
He said: “I looked into the water and it looked like a long blue tube sitting in the shallows.
“It seemed a bit strange because we don’t really have any trash in the river.
“I went down to take a closer look only to find another half-dozen ‘hits’ trying to make their way to the waterfall.
INSOLVENCY STREET LAMPS
“It turned out to be the elusive pocket lamprey that I had been trying to find for the past 20 years!” “
“The tour group was delighted. They quickly realized the importance of seeing them once we explained how rare they were. “
Slippery-pocket lampreys tend to spend their youth in freshwater before migrating downstream to the sea where they then feed on other fish in their adulthood.
They then return to rivers to breed and spawn before dying.
Sean continued, “They look a bit like an eel. They have a hideous dinosaur-like mouth filled with gripping teeth.
“But overall, they’re very beautiful creatures with iridescent blue eyes, pretty obvious gills, and a long, lean, and powerful body.” “
Intriguing species risk being threatened with extinction due to climate change and the increasing salinity of the waters in which they breed, according to ABC.
Imagine if these species were extinct in our lifetime – hundreds of millions of years of existence and they have the potential to become extinct under our watch.
Sean added, “They’re living dinosaurs and they’ve been around for over 200 million years, but they have real issues with climate change.
“Our river system has dried up by more than 20% over the past two decades and that would affect their people.
“It’s interesting that the winter has been very wet this year and the lampreys obviously knew it was a good year to get the system up again,” he said.
“Imagine if these species were to become extinct in our lifetime – hundreds of millions of years of existence and they have the potential to become extinct under our watch. “
Principal investigator at Murdoch University of Perth, Stephen Beatty, praised Sean’s appreciation for the lamprey.
He told ABC: “It’s great that he has raised awareness of this rather unique animal more.
“In terms of evolutionary importance, this is a pretty amazing animal and we are really lucky to have one of the species that travels up our rivers in the southwest. “
He told the eel hunters the best chance to spot them was on a rainy winter evening.