I think there are definitely stages of being an animal lover. There are, of course, people who love dogs, cats, and traditional pets. Go deeper and there are the people who love opossums, mice, and critters that make other people squirm. Then there are the Steve Irwins, who will love any animal no matter how utterly horrifying and nightmarish they are.

One Upstate man must belong to the latter category, because after finding an animal that I would describe as a nightmare crossed with one of the worms from Dune he decided an act of kindness and education was in order. It's a real mouth of horrifying-razor-teeth only a mother could love.

Sea What?

NYDEC/Chris Bowser
NYDEC/Chris Bowser

What you're looking at is a two-foot sea lamprey. The sea lamprey is a non-invasive, parasitic species normally found in and around Lake Champlain. This particular sea lamprey must have been a bit lost: it was caught in a net at the Norrie Point Environmental Center north of Poughkeepsie.

Fortunately for the sea lamprey, the person to dredge it from the deep was a New York Department of Environmental Conservation estuary education named Ben Davis. This is fortunate, because anybody else would have screamed, "Ahhhhh! Kill it with fire!" before carrying out an act of terminal violence.

Lamprey Sea, Lamprey Do

According to the DEC website, sea lampreys will, "attach to a fish, puncture its skin, and drain its body fluids." Sorry if you were eating when you read that. Due to this, they have a severe impact on fish populations and those that make a living off of fish and are a controlled species.

The DEC actively targets sea lamprey hatching waters with lampricides and will also build barriers on waterways to prevent their travel. There are other species of lamprey around New York State's waterways that aren't parasites lurking to pull a Dracula that are trying to be conserved, so sometimes its a hard to cut back on one without affecting the other.

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