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Older than dinosaurs, Oregon’s lampreys are fascinating fishes

Adult Pacific lamprey
Research photo courtesy Benjamin Clemens:
Adult Pacific lamprey live in the ocean and
return to freshwater to spawn and die.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

SALEM, Ore – Older than dinosaurs and still remaining primitive with boneless bodies, lampreys are fascinating fishes. A new ODFW brochure is introducing Oregonians to four of the state’s 10 native lamprey species. 

Filled with professional illustrations by noted artist Joseph Tomelleri, eye-catching images and graphics, the online brochure is informative and easy to read.

Oregon Lamprey Coordinator Benjamin Clemens is using the online brochure as an outreach tool to showcase the diversity and biology of Oregon’s lampreys and how they contribute to balancing stream ecosystems.

“I hope the brochure introduces readers to these unique fishes, each with a different life cycle and feeding habit.” Clemens said. Larval lamprey cleanse the water through their filter feeding and aerate the substrate they are burrowed into. All life stages provide high caloric food sources for many different species of fish, birds, and marine mammals.”

Clemens also noted the state’s other native fish species, including salmon and steelhead evolved to co-habitat with Oregon’s lampreys, none of which are the same nuisance species (the sea lamprey) that invaded the Great Lakes.

The brochure is in a printable pdf format with links to the species highlighted: Pacific, Western river, Western brook, and Miller Lake lamprey. It has been well-received in the scientific community and Clemens hopes Oregonians take advantage of another opportunity to learn more about Oregon’s lamprey species.



Benjamin Clemens, 541-757-5113,
Meghan Dugan, 541-464-2179,

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