Eels are strange and mysterious creatures that most people know little about. Eels are elongated fish, ranging from 5 cm to 4 m. They inhabit many habitats, from the murky ocean depths to freshwater creeks and rivers. These slimy fish can be beneficial and harmful to humans, depending on their size and where they are found.
Some eels even make their way into our homes through drainage pipes! Despite their weirdness, eels are undeniably fascinating creatures. This post will take a closer look at these enigmatic fish.
Eels Natural History
The term “eel” originally referred to the European eels (Anguilla Anguilla) but has been applied to many different species since then. There are over 800 eel species in 17 genera. Most eels live in freshwater environments, but marine species like the Moray eel can live in both environments.
There are two types of eels: the true eel and the moray eel. True eels live in freshwater, while moray eels can be found in fresh and salt water.
In Japanese mythology and folklore, eels are often depicted as powerful and dangerous creatures. In some cultures, freshwater eels- American eel (Anguilla Rostrata) and European eel (Anguilla Anguilla) are considered a delicacy and are a popular food. They are also used in traditional medicine in some cultures.
Eels are interesting creatures with a long and unique history. If you ever have the chance to see one up close, be sure to relish the opportunity!
Eels’ Appearance and Behavior
Eels are long and slender fish ranging in color from brown to greenish-blue. They have small eyes, a large mouth, sharp teeth, and no pelvic fins and pectoral fins. Eels live in fresh and saltwater environments and can be found in rivers, lakes, and oceans worldwide.
They have small scales and fin rays that run along the length of their bodies, making their appearance scaleless. Eels can range in size from a few inches to over 10 feet in length.
Eels are nocturnal animals and thus are rarely seen. Sometimes they are seen living together in holes or “eel pits.” They spend most of their time hiding in crevices or the sand.
During their adult life, eels are solitary creatures and only come together to mate. When they mate, the female eel will lay up to four million eggs which the male eel will then fertilize.
Eels are capable of swimming long distances. They use their long bodies to undulate through the water in a snake-like motion. Eels are strong swimmers and can travel up to 20 miles per hour in short bursts.
Eels are ambush predators, meaning they lie in wait for their prey to swim by before attacking. Eels are predatory animals and will eat just about anything they can find. Their diet consists of small fish, crustaceans, and worms. They mostly feed on shrimp, crabs, squid, clams, mussels, and other small animals.
Eels Distribution and Habitat
Eels are distributed throughout the world. They are approximately 720 species of ‘true eels’ in the world. Almost all of these species live in the sea: there are more than 130 species of conger eels, 170 types of moray eels, and 250 varieties of worm (or snake) eels.
Eels are found in freshwater environments worldwide, from cold mountain streams to tropical rivers and lakes. Some eel species can also live in saltwater environments, such as the Moray eel. Other eels live in the shallow waters of the ocean and burrow into sand, mud, or amongst rocks.
They typically inhabit areas with high concentrations of food and shelter, such as river deltas, estuaries, and reefs. They are most commonly found in the Mississippi River basin in North America. Some eels also live in deeper water on the continental shelves and over slopes deep as 4,000 m.
Eels Reproduction and Lifespan
Eels reproduce using a process called broadcast spawning. This is where the female eel releases her eggs into the water, and the male eel fertilizes them. The eggs are then carried away by currents and hatch into larvae called Leptocephali. The eel larvae drift in the ocean for several years before transforming into a juvenile (glass eels) and returning to freshwater habitats to breed.
Eels are long-lived fish. Some species of eel can live for over 100 years. Eels are slow-growing fish. They typically reach maturity at 4-5 years of age.
Eels Population Statistics
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the eel population has declined by 99% since the 1970s. The primary causes of this decline are overfishing, pollution, and habitat loss.
Eels are an important part of the ocean ecosystem, as they help maintain fish populations’ balance. As top predators, they help to keep other fish populations in check. Also, eels are a key food source for many animals, including birds, mammals, and other fish.
WWF is working to protect eels and their habitat. They are advocating for stricter regulations on fishing and promoting efforts to restore eel populations. They are also working to raise awareness about the importance of eels in the ecosystem and the need to protect them.
You can help to protect eels by supporting WWF’s work. You can also make a difference in your community by taking action to reduce pollution and protect habitat. Together, we can help ensure that eels are around for generations.
Do Eels Bite?
Yes, eels can bite. They have sharp teeth that they use to grip their prey. If an eel bites you, it is likely to be very painful. Eels are not generally considered dangerous to humans, but their bites can cause serious injuries.
If you are swimming in an area where eels are known to live, it is important to be cautious. Avoid touching or handling eels, and do not swim near them. If an eel bites you, seek medical attention immediately.
Is It Safe to Eat Eel?
Eel is a type of seafood that is often consumed by people worldwide. While there are many different opinions on whether or not eel is safe to eat, most experts seem to agree that it is perfectly safe for most people to enjoy. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind if you are planning on eating eel.
First, make sure you buy your eel from a reputable source. This will help ensure the eel is fresh and free of harmful bacteria. Secondly, cook the eel properly before eating it. This will help to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
Finally, if you have any concerns about whether or not eel is safe to eat, you should consult a healthcare professional before consuming it. Overall, eel is a safe and healthy food choice for most people. However, it is always best to practice caution and consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.
Where Do Eels Live?
Eels live in water! They can be found in oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams. Some eels live in the sand at the bottom of the ocean, while others live in coral reefs. Many eels, especially silver eels, are observed to migrate to different parts of the world during their lifetime.
Eels are an important part of the ocean ecosystem. Eels are a key food source for many animals, including birds, mammals, and other fish. The decline in eel populations has a ripple effect throughout the ocean ecosystem. As their numbers continue to dwindle, many other species will likely feel the impacts.
Together, we can help eels by protecting their habitats and supporting organizations to ensure these slippery animals will continue to amaze us for years to come.