How To Eat The Ugliest Fish Ever: Sea Lamprey

It's a burning question, we know.

Sea Lamprey
Photoy by T. Lawrence, Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Sea creatures are strange little critters. If we were seeing them for the  first time, our initial reaction might be to run away. Often, they have lots of sharp teeth, pulsating gills, scales, antennae and weird holes coming out of places. But the sea lamprey — that’s in a category of gross all its own.


This is a sea lamprey:

28/150: Sea Lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) look like eels but don’t be fooled! They are jawless and have concentric circles of teeth in their horrifying, suction-cup like mouth. They are a predatory species and they attach on to the side of a fish, tear away its skin, and suck out its blood. The fish will most likely die of infection, blood loss, or by being weakened greatly and becoming prey for something else. Lampreys are native to oceans and freshwater lakes in the Northern Hemisphere but are invasive in the Great Lakes. They invaded in the early 20th century and have caused enormous declines in ecologically and economically important fish species, such as the lake trout. They are part of a binational control program between USA and Canada using trapping, lampricide, and low-head barrier dams to prevent their spread. Lampreys are actually a delicacy in some parts of Europe; the Queen was given a lamprey pie made from Canadian lampreys for her Diamond Jubilee gift. I like pie, but that’s definitely not a pie I would eat! #Canada150 #Biodiversity150 #sealamprey #lamprey #bloodsucker #delicacy

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It kind of looks like it could be some sort of delicious tropical fruit upon first glance, but once the realization that this thing is actually a slimy parasitic fish and that those pointy things are teeth attached to a suction-cup mouth…well, eating it probably doesn’t seem fun anymore.


Some fun facts about the sea lamprey:

  • Sea lampreys are born blind.
  • Adult sea lampreys prey on other fish (including dolphins) by using their jawless mouth to suck the life out of the bodies.
  • Sea lampreys kill as many as 40 fish a year.
  • Male sea lampreys mate by literally squeezing the eggs out of females. Fun!

The Huffington Post has taken it upon themselves to publish an old recipe for sea lamprey, one of the most unappetizing creatures on earth.


The recipe is for Sauce Pour Lamprey is adapted from the mid-fifteenth century manuscript, “A Noble Boke of Cokery,” which you’d have to be high on in order to enjoy this thing, amiright?

If the direction of the recipe is any indication, it starts with:

Take a quick [living] lamprey, and let him bleed at the navel, and let him bleed in an earthen pot. And scald him with hay, and wash him clean, and put him [on a spit]; and set the vessel with the blood under the lamprey while he roasteth, and keep the liquor that droppeth out of him.

And that’s just Act 1.

The flavor of lamprey has been described as comparable to squid. Also, neither fish have bones, so can be cut up into chunks for cooking.  Plus?


Head to HuffPo for the recipe. And let us know how it tasted in the comment below.

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