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Check out this BBC coverage of this eel project here!

small red bouy

Images: Pieterjan Verhelst & Lisa Bobelyn©

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) is a panmictic fish species with an immense geographical distribution, ranging from northern Africa to northern Europe. Its complex life cycle involves two trans-Atlantic migrations from and to the presumed spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea. During the growing stage, they occupy a wide range of habitats in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments. Depending on the geographical area and habitat location, eels need to migrate a specific distance back to the spawning area. This has repercussions on their migration strategy: Their migration timing and speed need to be orchestrated so that eels arrive at the spawning area in time. Recently it has been suggested that eels adopt a mixed migration strategy whereby they move at different speeds to reach the spawning grounds either a few months after leaving the continents, either a year later.

All over Europe, telemetry studies with various techniques (e.g. acoustic, archival tags, passive integrated transponders…) are applied on European eel migration behaviour. Within the European Tracking Network, we will bring together telemetry studies to link migration strategies (e.g., size at migration, migration speed and timing) with geographical distribution. Furthermore, to get a better European-wide insight in anthropogenic effects on eel migration, we will compare these strategies between different aquatic systems such as estuarine, lowland areas, free flowing rivers, regulated rivers and shipping canals.

Hence, if you have a silver eel telemetry dataset, published or not, and willing to contribute, feel free to contact us. The data will be uploaded to the ETN database and used for this meta-analysis.

Contact person: Pieterjan Verhelst