Scientists are fighting "Vampires" in the Great Lakes

This is a sea lamprey, an invasive species that kills fish in the Great Lakes

HAMMOND BAY, Mich. — Around the Great Lakes, scientists are fighting vampires!

No--not real vampires. We're talking fish that act like vampires.

Right now, Lake Erie has more of these "Vampire Fish" than scientists like. But, scientists are testing out solutions and one involves the same technology that produces computer weather forecasts.

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Sea Lamprey is the actual name for these "Vampire Fish", and it literally sucks the blood of fish in our Great Lakes.

Sea Lampreys snuck into the Great Lakes when canals connected the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

In the 1950s, Sea Lamprey killed nearly 90% of Great Lakes Trout. Today, 90% of the Sea Lamprey are gone thanks to control efforts done by scientists across the Great Lakes.

Because these "Vampire Fish" are parasites, scientists want them gone. Killing these "Vampire Fish" is big business, too.

Over 20 million dollars are spent each year in the Great Lakes region to control the Sea Lamprey populations. Or, you could look at that number as over 20 million dollars spent to protect the natural fish swimming in the Great Lakes. That's because Great Lakes fishing is a 7 billion dollar industry between the United States & Canada.

Despite those large numbers, scientists keep searching for more efficient and cost-effective ways to get rid of them.

One current study has scientists looking up: that's because rainfall and temperatures affect where Sea Lamprey go. Once you know how fish respond to weather changes in their environment, you can predict how and where fish will travel.

Specifically, scientists combine the way computers make weather forecasts with the way computers analyze fish behavior. When you put the two together, the computer will create a future fish location forecast.

Researchers want to know where the biggest schools of Sea Lampreys will be to better coordinate their Sea Lamprey countermeasures to conserve their resources.

Researchers are also testing how Artificial Intelligence could control the population of Sea Lampreys.

At dams that block migrating fish, computers could use cameras to recognize sea lampreys from other fish. Once the computer identifies a sea lamprey, sorting tools would drop the sea lamprey in a cage while letting other fish pass over or around the dam.

As for the captured Sea Lamprey, they often get repurposed.

Some are donated to biological supply companies, who then provide lamprey to high School biology classrooms across the United States. Students will then dissect the fish to about anatomy.

Others--often thousands and thousands--go to research centers across the Great Lakes region so scientists can better understand how they behave.

Learn more about Sea Lampreys and the innovative research being done at the United States Geological Survey's Hammond Bay Biological Station here.