Brevia

Oceanic Spawning Migration of the European Eel (Anguilla anguilla)

Science  25 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5948, pp. 1660
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178120

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Abstract

European eels (Anguilla anguilla) undertake a ~5000-kilometer (km) spawning migration from Europe to the Sargasso Sea. The larvae are transported back to European waters by the Gulf Stream and North Atlantic Drift. However, details of the spawning migration remain unknown because tracking eels in the Atlantic Ocean has, so far, eluded study. Recent advances in satellite tracking enable investigation of migratory behavior of large ocean-dwelling animals. However, sizes of available tags have precluded tracking smaller animals like European eels. Here, we present information about the swimming direction, depth, and migratory behavior of European eels during spawning migration, based on a miniaturized pop-up satellite archival transmitter. Although the tagging experiment fell short of revealing the full migration to the Sargasso Sea, the data covered the first 1300 km and provided unique insights.

  • Present address: Aarhus University (AU), Department of Biological Sciences, Ny Munkegade 114, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

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