Little is known about the mating systems of sea lampreys. It is thought that male sea lampreys emit a pheromone composed of bile acids that alerts ovulating females to their presence. This signal may also be related to mating preferences and may be sent over large distances. Male sea lampreys selectively dig holes into river or stream bottoms and fertilize eggs once the female has laid them. This external fertilization allows multiple males to fertilize eggs.
Mating System: polygynous
From April to June, female sea lampreys lay between 30,000 and 100,000 eggs. These eggs are fertilized externally by males. Fertilized eggs hatch in 3 to 8 weeks. Larvae spend 1 to 3 years filter-feeding and do not associate with other sea lampreys. By 3 to 5 years of age, sea lampreys reach sexual maturity.
Breeding interval: Sea lampreys breed once at the end of their lifetime.
Breeding season: Sea lampreys breed between April and June.
Range number of offspring: 30,000 to 100,000.
Range gestation period: 3 to 8 weeks.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 to 5 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 5 years.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; sexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous
Male sea lampreys selectively locate a nesting area. Sea lampreys do not allocate energy toward parental investment after laying and fertilizing eggs, as both male and female sea lampreys die shortly after spawning.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-hatching/birth