European Eel facts and info. In 1904, Danish biologist Johannes Schmidt discovered the eel’s spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea when he found tiny eel larvae in the area. In 2018, in partnership with Bristol Water, WWT conducted a vital survey to find out where all the eels are living in our wetlands at Slimbridge. Search for an endangered species profile. Eels are often spotted in the reedbeds and shallow pools at, Eels travel from the freshwater lake to Strangford Lough at. To find out more, we’ve been working with Bournemouth University to catch adult eels at Slimbridge and implant them with microchips – the kind used to identify pets. Keeping these long-term residents happy is something else we’re working on, by improving their habitat. Eels’ bodies are covered in slime, which may protect them from disease, help to regulate their salt and water content, and perhaps assist a slippery escape from predators. They are normally around 60–80 cm (2.0–2.6 ft) and rarely reach more than 1 m (3 ft 3 in), but can reach a length of up to 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in exceptional cases. ‘They make this immense migration only once in their lives,’ says Emma. It can be found in rivers and ditches, but leaves its freshwater home to breed in an area of the west Atlantic Ocean called the Sargasso Sea. We are now digging new ponds at Slimbridge and widening existing ditches. Mature eels have never been tracked all the way back to the Sargasso Sea. It’s this stage of the eels’ lives that has caused alarm over the species’ risk of extinction. The European eel stock has been in critical condition for over a decade. Whereas Bewick’s swans stop here each year on their annual migrations, eels come and stay for decades before returning to their natal waters. Young eels (known as 'Elvers') return to freshwater rivers to develop. Jack Perks. They spend most of their lifespan (6 to 20 years) in freshwater, where their bellies turn yellow. We’ve installed a scanning device in a ditch that’s thought to be the main thoroughfare silver eels take to leave our wetlands. The eyes of silver eels get larger when they return to the sea, helping them to see better in the deep, dark water. European Conger– Let’s start with the largest of the 14 species, and one the largest of all eels. Various species live in the waters around North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and more. Eels are known to frequent WWT Steart Marshes, where the River Parret meets the Severn Estuary. A suite of threats is implicated in the eels’ demise – weirs and dams, hydropower and water-pumping stations could be blocking their migration pathways from the sea into the freshwater catchments where they grow and mature; overfishing, pesticides and parasites are believed to be part of the problem; and climate change may be shifting the track of the Gulf Stream so that fewer glass eels are hitching a trans-Atlantic ride. While young glass eels may have trouble climbing into Slimbridge, the silver adults should have no problem getting back out, driven by their urge to migrate and reproduce. ‘Very little is known about how adult eels use freshwater habitats,’ says Emma. In 2007, the EU adopted the ‘eel regulation’ which provided a framework for the recovery of the stock in the long-term. But now it’s on the list of critically endangered species that could disappear forever if we don’t take urgent action today. In recent decades, this species has undergone a dramatic decline throughout its range. American Conger– People refer to this species by several different names, including sea eel, poison eel, dog eel, and more. The bad news was that Emma and the team didn’t find a single young eel – or ‘elver’ – and, right now, nobody knows exactly why. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied for European eel, all anthropogenic impacts (e.g. European Eel stocks have fallen by at least 90% since the 1970s. The European eel and other freshwater eels are eaten in Europe, the United States, and other places. We use cookies on this site to improve your user experience. These eels have numerous traits and adaptations to help them survive. Contrastingly, the la… The number of glass eels arriving in Europe has fallen by around 95% in the last 40 years and they urgently need our help. European eel (Anguilla anguilla) throughout its natural range . That was the good news. agreeing to use our cookies. The European eel lives in waterways but travels to the ocean to breed. Adult eels can survive out of water and slither some distance over wet grass. We’ll cut back vegetation and overhanging trees to reduce shading and encourage freshwater plants to grow. 1. European coasts from the Black Sea to the White Sea (Russia), Rivers of the North Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean Seas, This article is only an excerpt. Check out our For centuries, people have puzzled over where eels come from. However, artificial dams and pollution are mowing their numbers down like reapers. Here, they metamorphose into finger-length, see-through miniature eels – called glass eels – to continue their journey inland. List of all endangered species (animals & plants). She describes how the eels instantly try to escape. long! It's just one of the many benefits of being a WWT member. But hopefully, as we learn more about them and take steps to make them more welcome, eels will keep coming back to our wetlands for many years to come.’. It all begins near the island of Bermuda in the deep, blue waters of the Sargasso Sea. Some were yellowy-green. The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a species of eel, a snake-like, catadromous fish. European Eel. We’re adopting a different technique to help eels migrate at WWT Castle Espie on the banks of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland. As each tagged eel wriggles past the scanner, a chip will record its details, before it embarks on an epic migration thousands of miles back to the Sargasso Sea where it will breed, then die. Facts about Eels 5: European conger European conger is considered as the biggest true eels. This may be due to natural changes, overfishing, pollution and increasing obstacles to their migration in Europe's rivers.