Listening to Catherine Winter's recent story for Front and Center you can see that the sea lamprey might be the grossest creature in the Great Lakes. This invasive species sucks the life out of fish, leaving giant fish-hickies with its toothy suction cup mouth. The sea lamprey is so gross, in fact, that being a “sea lamprey exterminator” made it on to a reality TV show about disgusting jobs.
No doubt, the incredible harm they present to environment and economy is the major motivating factor behind the herculean efforts to exterminate them from the lakes. But I can’t help but wonder if the gross-out factor has played a role. If baby pandas invaded the Great Lakes, even if they did great environmental harm, it would be much harder to get the public behind their extermination. If in the gross jobs TV clip they were spitting on a panda, people would be outraged. Could you see the below PSA being made about baby pandas?
Poor sea lamprey, you just can't get love.