U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service applies sea lamprey treatment in Marquette

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 4:24 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service workers poured a chemical used to kill sea lamprey into Dead River, by the Tourist Park Dam in Marquette Monday.

The invasive species spawns along the dam and Dead River, eventually reaching Lake Superior.

“Each large parasitic lamprey will basically kill approximately 40 pounds of fish in its lifetime,” Shawn Nowicki Marquette Biological Station supervisory fish biologist said. “As a parasitic fish, they are generally feeding for a year or year and a half out in the lake.”

The lamprey spawn doesn’t affect fish, which is why the Fish and Wildlife Service is using the treatment in areas where the larva is. Nowicki says the treatment Monday will kill approximately 78,000 lamprey larvae in the stream.

“The treatment generally takes about 12 hours from start to finish for the river treatment,” Nowicki said. “We are starting here at the dam and monitoring the concentration of the lampricide as it moves downstream and then will it end up in Lake Superior.”

As the treatment moves along the river, technicians sample the water to ensure the chemical is at a safe and working level.

“pH has a big affect on how effective the chemical is, in fact, how we base our concentrations on,” Jamie Criger Marquette Biological Station lead physical science technician said. “The higher the Ph the higher concentration we have to run our chemical at.”

Nowicki says since the fish and wildlife service started doing sea lamprey treatments in the 1950s, it has made a significant impact on their population.

“Looking back prior to sea lamprey control to where we are now we have seen a 90% reduction in sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes,” Nowicki said.

The group has more treatments planned along Dead River later this week. To view a sea lamprey treatment, contact the Marquette Biological Station at (906) 226-6571 or visit the U.S. Fish & Wild Service website.