A creature that resides in the streams of our forestlands is the Western brook lamprey. They are found from coastal southeast Alaska to California. They are a primitive group of fishes that are eel-like in from but lack jaws and paired fins.
Adult lamprey spawn in gravel bottomed streams, at the upstream end of riffle habitat. Both sexes construct the nests, often moving stones with their mouths. Spawning occurs from March to July where 1,100 to 5,500 eggs are laid per adult female. The adults typically die after the eggs are deposited and fertilized. The newly-hatched ammocoetes emerge about 10 days after spawning and drift into silty backwater areas. They remain burrowed in the stream bottom, living as filter feeders on algae and detritus for 2 to 7 years. In the spring, western brook lampreys emerge from their burrows sexually mature and remain in freshwater where they may migrate short distances to spawn.
Western brook lampreys are nonparasitic and do not feed as adults. Except for the last 6 months to 1 year of life, the western brook lamprey and the river lamprey are indistinguishable from each other.
In streams on Starker Forests lands, lamprey can sometimes be easily found. One surprising instance where lampreys are easy to see is during fish culvert replacements. Since lampreyâ€™s burrow into the streambed, and excavating for a new culvert temporarily disrupts the stream channel, these little creatures can often be found moving around the stream. It seems like it would be hard to know exactly how many lampreys are in any given stream since they spend so much time burrowed in the stream bed.