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ESR 44:409-419 (2021)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01113

Shedding light on the river and sea lamprey in western European marine waters

Sophie A. M. Elliott1,5,*, Noémie Deleys1,2, Etienne Rivot1,5, Anthony Acou1,3, Elodie Réveillac4, Laurent Beaulaton1,6

1Management of Diadromous Fish in their Environment OFB-INRAE-Institut Agro-UPPA, 35042 Rennes, France
2French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER) VIGIES, 44311 Nantes, France
3UMS OFB-CNRS-MNHN PatriNat, Station marine du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 35800 Dinard, France
4Littoral, Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), UMR 7266, La Rochelle Université-CNRS, 17000 La Rochelle, France
5UMR ESE Ecology and Ecosystem Health, Institut Agro, INRAE, 35042 Rennes, France
6OFB, DRAS, 35042 Rennes, France
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Lampreys are ancestral jawless vertebrates with particularly complex life histories. Population declines resulting from increased anthropogenic pressure have been observed. For semelparous diadromous lampreys, the marine phase remains largely a black box, making targeted management and conservation measures difficult to implement. Here, we collated a database of 168904 hauls from both fisheries-dependent and fisheries-independent surveys between 1965 and 2019. Lampreys were observed in only 254 hauls (<1% lamprey presence); 421 sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus and 300 European river lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis were identified. Sizes ranged from 13 to 92 cm and from 14 to 42 cm, respectively. The majority of lampreys (61%) were caught by mobile demersal gear types. The highest presence of both species was recorded within the Greater North Sea, followed by the Bay of Biscay. L. fluviatilis was observed closer to the coast than P. marinus. For both lampreys, there was an increase in size with distance from the coast. P. marinus were predominantly <60 cm and observed from August to February, indicating that these were sexually immature juveniles migrating out to sea. For L. fluviatilis, the majority were thought to be adults (>20 cm) and occurred in autumn, indicating inshore migration. Our observations provide insight into the ecology of lampreys at sea and highlight study locations and gear types, which may be more pertinent for future research. Greater awareness is needed during surveys to collate catch information on lampreys and improve understanding of their ecology and phenology at sea.


KEY WORDS: Endangered species · Lamprey · Distribution · Ecology · Growth · Migration · Surveys


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Cite this article as: Elliott SAM, Deleys N, Rivot E, Acou A, Réveillac E, Beaulaton L (2021) Shedding light on the river and sea lamprey in western European marine waters. Endang Species Res 44:409-419. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01113

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