European Eel

About European Eel

The European Eel spends most of its life in freshwater. However, they lay their eggs in saltwater, in this case the Sargasso Sea, an area of the North Atlantic where seaweed grows as a result of the ocean currents. Once they lay their eggs they die. When young are hatched, they start life as a transparent, leaf-shaped creature that develops into an elongated, transparent eel.

This eel drifts with the ocean currents until it reaches a river estuary. This takes about 3 years for the eel. By the time they reach the European waters they have become elvers (young eels); they are tiny replicas of their parents. Many of these are commercially netted as they run up river estuaries.

Those that are not caught travel through the night, some leaving the water to travel overland to lakes unconnected to the river systerm.

Female eels are larger than the males. When the urge comes to breed they head back to the Sargasso Sea.

The eel is normally a yellow-brown color, and changes to silver as it approaches sexual maturity.