The 1960 year class of sea lampreys, Petromyzon marinus, isolated in a tributary of southern Lake Superior continued to yield information on the early life history of the sea lamprey. The larval population persisted and newly metamorphosed individuals were captured from 1966 until the study was terminated in 1972. The average lengths of larvae collected in October (when yearly growth is nearly complete) in successive years from 1966 to 1972 were 111, 113, 112, 114, 121, 128, and 129 mm. The average lengths of transforming lampreys during the same years were 150, 151, 145, 143, 144, 148, and 156 mm. A gradual downstream shift of the population took place. Catches in an inclined-plane trap at the lower end of the study area increased to a peak of 13,244 in the 1968-69 migration year (September 1-August 31), and then steadily decreased. As the number of lampreys decreased in the upper sections and increased in the lower ones, the changes in density were reflected in changes in growth rates. Although the mean length of ammocetes throughout the stream was 111 mm in 1966, it had increased by 1971 to 151 and 143 mm in the upstream sections (IV and V), but to only 115 mm in the densely populated area immediately above the trap. Of a total of 9,889 larvae marked in 1962-68 to study movement and distribution, 2,045 were recovered as larvae and 1,396 as newly transformed adults. Major downstream movements of larvae occurred during high water in April and May, and of transformed lampreys in mid-October through November. Each year about 40% (range, 30-68) of the annual production of transformed lampreys migrated from the Big Garlic River system in one 12-hour period, and 82% by the end of October. The Big Garlic River study proved conclusively that metamorphosis of a single year class occurs over a considerable number of years. Newly metamorphosed individuals were captured in almost steadily increasing numbers from 1965 (age V) to the termination of the study in 1972 (age XII). Many large ammocetes were still present in the study area in 1972, and it can safely be assumed that they would have continued to metamorphose for several more years.
Additional publication details
Biology of larval and metamorphosing sea lampreys, Petromyzon marinus, of the 1960 year class in the Big Garlic River, Michigan, Part II, 1966-72