They look like creatures from a horror movie and more than 5,000 of them have been counted in the Penobscot River according to the Bangor Daily News.

Lamprey eels are prehistoric looking and their sucker mouths will give me nightmares, but marine resource scientists are giddy about their arrival. It turns out that these horrifying looking creatures are a huge win for Maine's marine ecology. The eels are the equivalent of the earthworm.

Things to love about the Lamprey eel:

  • They are used for cancer research because they have such a simple circulatory system.
  • They mate and then die, then salmon and other hungry creatures eat their decomposing bodies. Glad I haven't eaten breakfast yet, that was a tough sentence.
  • The eels bring nutrients from the ocean into the food chain of freshwater ecosystems.
  • They use their scary mouths to create nests out of rocks that help Atlantic salmon and brook trout spawn.
  • They won't bite you or attach themselves to you and suck on your legs. They are not interested in you. If you were a whale or shark in the open water they would hitch a ride that way though. They are not attack eels. They come in peace.
  • Lamprey eels are also considered to be a culinary delicacy in some places.

The Lamprey eels aren't crashing our summer party; according to BDN, $60 million has been spent removing dams and creating ways for them to spawn in Maine rivers. We did everything but put up billboards to get them here.

Aside from their creepy looking eyes, slimy bodies and horrifying sucker mouths, these are actually very cool creatures. Welcome to Maine.