JUN 17, 2015 5:06 AM PDT

Fanged Fish Falling Fast in Fairbanks

Fanged vampire fish are falling from the sky in Alaska. Wild foot-long creatures, with multiple rows of teeth and sucking jaws that clamp on to other fish to feed on their blood are literally landing on lawns and in parking lots in Fairbanks Alaska. Sound like a science fiction movie of the week or some tabloid headline? Nope, it's really true.
The Arctic Lamprey, native to Alaska, don't normally fall from the sky, but there's a first time for everything
Several news reports have documented landings of a fierce looking primitive fish known as the Arctic Lamprey, mysteriously coming out of the sky and down on the unsuspecting citizens of Alaska. Just what is an Arctic Lamprey? According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website, they resemble eels, but are not part of the eel family. Instead they are a primitive fish that can grow up to a foot long. They do not have jaws as most fish do, but rather they have a circular mouth that has the ability to latch on to prey with strong suction. They have two big teeth in the front, and rows of smaller teeth behind them and together with their sucking power they have the ability to feed on the blood of other fish in their habitat.

They are also anadromous, which means they are hatched in freshwater, make their way to the ocean, but like salmon, return to fresh water to spawn. Anyone who has seen one would agree that they are also pretty darn ugly. So why are they not swimming around in the ocean, sucking blood from other creatures and then fighting their way upstream to make more ugly lamprey babies? How is it that they have made it to the skies over an Alaskan village? Alaska skies are known for the northern lights, not creepy sucker fish.

It started in the parking lot of a store in Fairbanks. The owner of the ValueVillage store there reported finding one of the scary creatures in the parking lot. The fish was placed in a bucket of water so Alaska Fish and Game wardens could identify it. A resident in another part of Fairbanks also reported finding one of the little suckers on his lawn. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game reports that a total of four lampreys were found on land in the Fairbanks area, which begs the question, "What hideous turn of science has these beasts falling from the sky?"

A spokesperson for the ADFG said, "We think the Fairbanks fish are being pulled out of the Chena River [by birds], where lampreys come to lay their eggs. Their odd mouths and eel-like body shape makes them hard to catch. The gulls are likely dropping the squirming critters while in flight." 

Oh, that's not scary at all then. It's simply wild birds that are scooping up the lampreys and then dropping them like squirming little sucker bombs. Officials are not worried though, since the lamprey spawning season is only from May to July and the gulls have a hard time holding on to the ones they do manage to grab.

Rather than being freaked out, ADFG educator Erik Anderson joked in an interview with EarthTouch News Network, "We actually like them up here [The lamprey population] is just another thing that makes Alaska an amazing place, and there is still a lot to learn about it."
Check out the video below to learn more:

Source: HuffPo, EarthTouch News Network, Alaska Dept of Fish and Game, NewsMiner Alaska, YouTube
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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