The “vampire” fish could easily be a creature out of Alien. The spawning grounds of a New Zealand “vampire” fish, known as the lamprey, have been found off of Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula, in the South Island of New Zealand. Needless to say, the lamprey is a frightening looking fish but scientists are ecstatic about their discovery, because this is the first ever location of the lamprey’s spawning site. This fish loves to play hide and seek (well, it hides, mostly), living in the sea, rivers and lakes.
The lamprey has been endangered in New Zealand due to (who else?) humans, but is this surprising, considering its horrifying appearance? It has no jaws, and its body is shaped like a funnel. It has gnarly teeth in the back of its mouth. The lamprey looks like an eel but it’s really a fish. It holds special significance to the Maori people of New Zealand because it is a taonga species, belonging to a group of native animals, birds and plants that holds special importance to Maoris. The Maori also consider the lamprey a major source of food.
Despite the lamprey’s scary appearance, it’s considered an important food source in the wild also, so bringing them back from extinction would bring balance to the ecosystem in New Zealand, according to the United Nations’ Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.
It took scientists two years to uncover the New Zealand “vampire” fish spawning grounds. Scientists Cindy Baker and Tyler Buchinger were seeking the elusive lamprey in New Zealand when they discovered three nesting sites in the Southern Hemisphere, an area where the lamprey had never been seen before.
There are lampreys in the Northern Hemisphere but they differ from their southern relations in that they hide and mate in riverbeds while the southern lampreys lay their eggs underneath boulders and rocks, therefore making it difficult for the scientists to find.
Now that the spawning grounds of this New Zealand “vampire” fish have been discovered, it may possibly be taken off the endangered species list.
Other Freaky Looking Fish
- Piranha. Remember that cheesy Piranha film from the 1970s? The image of the blood in the water was freaky but also sort of funny.
- Anglerfish. One look at this fish and it’s like seeing the face of the devil, which is not so insulting considering “sea devil” is actually another name for it.
- Moray eel. This beast of an eel is scary enough but what makes it even more so is the fact it is a carnivore and can inflict a nasty, painful bite. If bitten by a moray eel, take care of it as soon as possible because it can become infected. The moray eel loves to hide so don’t play peekaboo with this creature.
- Tigerfish. The name is befitting, because it has got sharp teeth just like a tiger’s. Actually, they are more similar to a white shark’s teeth. This creature is as scary as it looks so stay well away.
- Viperfish. This one looks like the spawn of Alien. (Are horror films based in some kind of reality?) The viperfish can grow up to six feet long. Oy.
By Juana Poareo