Petromyzon marinus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Petromyzon marinus
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1758
Common Name(s):
English Sea Lamprey

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-03-01
Assessor(s): NatureServe
Reviewer(s): Smith, K. & Darwall, W.R.T.
Contributor(s): Freyhof, J. & Kottelat, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Ormes, M.
Listed as Least Concern in view of the large extent of occurrence, large number of subpopulations, large population size, and lack of major threats. Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable, or the species may be declining but not fast enough to qualify for any of the threatened categories under Criterion A (reduction in population size).
2008 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Range in the northeast Atlantic extends from Norway, Iceland, and the Barents Sea south to northern Africa, including the western Mediterranean Sea. In the northwest Atlantic, the range extends from Labrador, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, USA. Landlocked populations occur in the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, Oneida Lake, and Lake Champlain. Construction of canals allowed access to Upper Great Lakes (above Lake Ontario).
Albania; Algeria; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Canada; Croatia; Denmark; Egypt; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greenland; Iceland; Ireland; Isle of Man; Italy; Latvia; Libya; Lithuania; Malta; Mexico; Monaco; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Tunisia; Turkey; United Kingdom; United States
Regionally extinct:
Czech Republic
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Arctic Sea; Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – western central; Mediterranean and Black Sea
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is represented by a large number of subpopulations and locations.

Total adult population size is unknown but relatively large.

Trend over the past 10 years or three generations is uncertain but likely relatively stable or slowly declining.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Adults migrate from the ocean or lake to spawning streams. Landlocked populations in lakes may migrate up to about 50 miles upstream for spawning. Anadromous populations with access to the ocean migrate up to a couple hundred miles. Females deposit numerous small eggs in nests made by males in gravel, sand, and rubble of streams with moderately strong current. Larvae burrow in sand and silt bottom in quiet water downstream from spawning areas and filter-feed on plankton and detritus.
Systems: Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Localized threats may exist, but on a range-wide scale no major threats are known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Currently, this species is of relatively low conservation concern and does not require significant additional protection or major management, monitoring, or research action.

Bibliography [top]

Applegate, V.C. 1950. Natural history of the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus, in Michigan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Scientific Report 55: 1-237.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin.

Bryan, M.B, Zalinski, D., Filcek, B., Libants, S., Li, W. and Scribner, K.T. 2005. Patterns of invasion and colonization of the sea lamprey. Molecular Ecology 14: 3757-3773.

Cooper, E.L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania.

Hardisty, M.W. and Potter, I.P. (eds). 1971. The Biology of Lampreys. pp. 65. Academic Press, London and New York.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Jenkins, R.E. and Burkhead, N.M. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

Lee, D.S., Gilbert, C.R., Hocutt, C.H., Jenkins, R.E., McAllister, D.E. and Stauffer, J.R., Jr. 1980. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Menhinick, E.F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Nelson, J.S., Crossman, E.J., Espinosa-Perez, H., Findley, L.T., Gilbert, C.R., Lea, R.N. and Williams, J.D. 2004. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland.

Page, L.M. and Burr, B.M. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts.

Page, L.M. and Burr, B.M. 2011. Peterson field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Massachusetts.

Robins, C.R., Bailey, R.M., Bond, C.E., Brooker, J.R., Lachner, E.A., Lea, R.N. and Scott, W.B. 1991. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada. American Fisheries Society.

Rodriguez, M.A. 2002. Restricted movement in stream fish: the paradigm is complete, not lost. Ecology 83(1): 1-13.

Scott, W.B. and Crossman, E.J. 1973. Freshwater fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

Smith, C.L. 1983. Fishes of New York (maps and printout of a draft section on scarce fishes of New York).

Smith, C.L. 1985. The inland fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, New York.

Whitworth, W.R., Berrien, P.L. and Keller, W.T. 1976. Freshwater fishes of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 101: vi + 134.

Wigley, R.L. 1959. Life history of the sea lamprey of Cayuga Lake, New York. Fishery Bulletin 59(154): 561-617.

Wilson, F.W. 1955. Lampreys in the Lake Champlain basin. American Midland Naturalist 54(1): 168-172.

Citation: NatureServe 2013. Petromyzon marinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 August 2015.
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