The "vampire fish" is really a lamprey. The lamprey has a snaky body and can be as much as three feet in length. It sucks blood with its round, cuplike mouth. It’s cousin, the hagfish, is even more brutal. I have never cooked hagfish or lamprey, but some adventurous cooks have. Ewwww!
The vampire fish goes to work using its tongue that is covered with sharp, little teeth. It saws into the skin of its prey. The vampire fish stays attached to the victim for several days until the poor creature finally dies from loss of blood.
A hagfish looks like a big worm. It has know jaws, like its lamprey cousin. The hagfish gets its food by boring into the bodies of dead or dying fish with the teeth on its tongue. It rasps away with its tongue until nothing is left of the fish but skin and bones.
Lampreys and hagfishes are not true fish. They are descendents of jawless animals that lived in the sea hundreds of millions of years ago. before there were any true fish with jaws and scales.
Luckily for us, lampreys and hagfish do not attack humans unless they are starved. However lampreys are eaten by humans. “Last night, Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez got his hands on the season’s first Yukon River lamprey: a slithery delicacy dip-netted through holes in the river ice up in Alaska. And as early as this evening — by tomorrow, for sure — he and his his chef, Taylor Thornhill, will be offering the primitive eel-like fish as a seasonal special at the Harvest Vine, serving it to customers who have no compunction about paying $13 to $18 (a bargain, as any lamprey-lovin’ European will tell you) to eat something that looks like a cross between a snake and a flute.” Read more about lamprey eating at http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/allyoucaneat/2008/11/20/lamprey_gorgeous_or_horrific_y.html
Lamprey Photo Credit: ttsibulskis.edu.glogster.com
Hagfish Photo Credit: http://www.whaletimes.org/hagfish.htm