European Eel


The European Eel is a snake-like fish. They can reach a length of 1.5 m, but are usually much smaller, about 60–80 cm and rarely more than 1 m. Even though the appearance on photos might make you mistake it for a moray, it is considerably smaller and less formidable in the water. Still all precautions must be taken. Remember. Never touch the wildlife! This beautiful fish is critically endangered with only 1% of their pre-1980 numbers remaining in the wild. Environmental stresses that have been implicated are diseases (mainly parasites), damming of rivers and pollution. Greenpeace has recently added this species of fish to its supermarket unsustainable fishing redlist.signifying fish commonly sold in supermarkets around the world caught in an unsustainable


European eels are nocturnal, finding hiding places or burrowing into mud (or under stones) during the day and coming out in search of food at dusk.  Eels are remarkably mobile, and are capable of movement over dams and even land.


The diet is broad, and includes marine, estuarine and freshwater fauna.  The principal food is invertebrates like molluscs and crustaceans and fishes.  Eels also scavenge on dead fishes.  Small eels feed on insect larvae, molluscs, worms, and crustaceans.  The diet of larger specimens consists predominately of other fishes.  European eels do not feed during the cold months. The cold months are spent in hibernation.  The species is reported to leave the water and enter fields to feed on terrestrial fauna, such as slugs and worms.

Life History

Much of the eels life history had remained a mystery until fairly recently. The reason is simply the lack of juvenile specimens of the species. Unlike other migrating fish, the eel begins its life in the ocean’s open water while they spend most of their lives in fresh water only to return to the ocean to spawn and then perish! Imagine that until the 1900s no one knew of even a location for their spawning grounds. Something that had changed with the studies of Johannes Schmidt who identified the Sargasso Sea as being the most likely candidate for the spawning grounds of the European Eel. Reaching maturity at 5 to 20 years of age these fish can live quite a while longer in captivity…should one dare to capture and imprison such a wonderful animal!!!

 European Eel Life Cycle

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