Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stumped (Update--just figured it out)

Walking along stalking for Carpies, I spotted this just ahead of me. "Hey look at that, that's a water snake eating a leech! A big leech!"

I chased and watched for a few minutes and realized that there is no way that's a leech--way to big. So if not a leech, what's getting eaten here?

You can see here the distinctive seven gill "holes" on the side of the body and the fin-like top and tail. Eyes are possibly visible just to the left of the holes and a bit higher on the body. It's a fish of some sort...

Here's another look at the gills and an awful look at it's mouth, a semi-round soft mouth on the bottom near the front of the head. This is one odd little creature that, by now, is no longer among us.

Any ideas on what this is? It's from a freshwater, warmwater lake that is fed by a large creek and empties eventually into a major trib of the Missouri River.

It is a lamprey!


  1. That was awesome...thanks for getting such great pictures! Just freaked my wife out a little bit :-)

  2. Frighteningly, it could be a sea lamprey, which I believe are invasive (they are out here, anyway).

    I hate lampreys. One of the reasons I avoid in-stream work!

  3. Ahhhh, very nice. I thought that's what it was when the more I looked at it. Haven't seen one in the wild as of yet. JGR

  4. Those are some cool pics...didn't even know we had any of those living in that kind of water. Looks like the snake almost bit off more than he could chew!!

  5. Glad to know something eats those vampires.

  6. Sanders, you cracked me up; glad I could contribute to a freakout. haha

    Jay, I was fascinated by this--still am--I love seeing stuff like this. Most people don't pay enough attention to whats going on around them and walk right by the coolest things.

    ST, I'm planning to email some photos to the local park service to make them aware...which they prob are, but just to be hopefully helpful. It can't be good.

    JGR, this is my first one. Doubt I'll ever see another one (hopefully!).

    HighPlains, I didn't either. And yes, it was an even battle...I never did see the end, but the lamprey was putting up a strong fight. Unreal.

    Steve, yes...esp considering what they do to fish. Google "freshwater lamprey" on images and look at all the photos of lampreys attached to trout! ahh!

  7. very nice. further back on the phylogenic tree are the lampreys. Cool! I like the blog. Owl Jones gave me the tip off.

  8. Will
    I can't tell you what it is, but I do know I don't want anything to do with the snake.