20-year Hunt Success: Blood-sucking eel with rows of swirling teeth spotted

Tour guide Sean Blocksidge extraordinarily discovered six of the rare lampreys at once.
Credit: Pen News/Sean Connolly

Tour guide Sean Blocksidge extraordinarily discovered six of the rare lampreys at once. Credit: Pen News/Sean Connolly

A very frightening blood-sucking eel with series of swirling teeth has eventually been seen after a 20-year hunt.

Tour guide Sean Blocksidge remarkably found six of the lampreys– dubbed “living dinosaurs”– immediately, after twenty years of intensive searching.

The unusual jaw-less animal developed millions of years ago without scale, elongated bodies in addition to a specialist mouth known as a sucker.

They are known for eating and drinking greedily the blood of their prey, earning them the nickname of

“vampire fish”.

Sean, 49, had heard local myths in Margaret River, Australia, regarding the evasive lampreys wandering up local waterfalls, yet said they had not been sighted in 10 years.

He compared his persistent search to looking for a “yeti or the Loch Ness monster” – and could not believe his luck when he sighted half-a-dozen.

The Aussie explained.

“It was a kind of surreal moment. I had heard so many stories from the old-timers about how the lampreys used to migrate in their thousands up the waterfalls,”

“But we haven’t seen them in our Margaret River system for well over a decade.”

“I’m out on the river every day on tour with the canoes and always hoping to spot one, but this was my lucky day.”

“Yeah, I got a bit excited – and also excited to know they are still here.”

Sean “could not believe” his luck when he spotted six lampreys after a 20-year search. Pen News/Sean Blocksidge

The 49-year-old Sean narrated how he discoverd the hard to find lampreys at Yalgardup Falls, a spot where he and his tour groups frequently stop.

He stated: “I looked down into the water and it looked like a long blue tube sitting in the shallows.

“That seemed a bit odd as we don’t really get any rubbish in the river.

“I went down for a closer look only to discover another half dozen of the ‘tubes’ trying to make their way up the waterfall.”

“It turned out it was the elusive pouched lamprey that I had been trying to find for the past 20 years!”

“The tour group were thrilled. They quickly realized the significance of seeing them once we explained how rare they were.”

The slimy pouched lampreys incline to spend their early life in freshwater before drifting downstream to the sea where it then dines out on other fish throughout its adult life.

They afterwards return to rivers to reproduce and release or deposit eggs before they die.

He also said: “They kinda look like an eel. They have a hideous looking dinosaur-like mouth filled with grasping teeth.

A snake-like eel self-assured on a riverbed.
The breeds are at risk of becoming seriously at risk due to climate change and the rising salinity in the waters where they breed.
Credit: Pen News/Sean Blocksidge

“But overall they are very beautiful creatures with iridescent blue eyes, quite obvious gills and a long, slender, powerful body.”

The fascinating species are at risk of becoming endangered due to climate change and the increasing salinity in the waters where they breed, as stated by ABC.

Sean further said:

“They are living dinosaurs and have existed for over 200 million years, but they are in real trouble with climate change.”

“Our river system has dried by over 20% in the past two decades and this is thought to be affecting their population.”

“Interestingly it was a very wet winter this year and the lampreys obviously knew it was a good year to migrate up the system again,” he declared.

“Imagine if these species were to be become extinct in our lifetimes – hundreds of millions of years of existence and they have the potential to disappear on our watch.”

Stephen Beatty, Senior research fellow at Murdoch University in Perth, commend Sean’s appreciation of the lamprey.

“It’s great that he’s increased the awareness of this pretty unique animal.” He told ABC

“In terms of evolutionary significance, they’re a pretty amazing animal and we’re really lucky to have one of the species come up our rivers in the South West.”

He declared to eel hunters the best possibility of spotting one was on a showery winter evening.


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