European Eel

European Eel – Change and Change Again

Keywords: Many different evolutions. Change and change again. Long journeys, both internal and external. A complex life. Water element wisdom. Wetland wisdom. Ocean wisdom. Do not expect to find all your contentment in this moment. Tough and arduous journeys. Career change. Deep dark wisdom. Challenging situations.

Description: The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a Critically Endangered snake-like fish found throughout much of Europe that grows to around 60-80cm in length (rarely reaching 1 metre). They live complex lives with different life cycles that are not fully understood in the wild, and for centuries, fishermen never caught anything they believed to be a young eel. They have magnetoreceptors and are able to detect the earth’s magnetic field.

European eels begin their life in the ocean but spend most of their lives in fresh inland water or brackish coastal water, returning to the ocean to reproduce and then die. Larvae drift in a 300-day migration, when reaching the coast they become glass eels, and many start migration, before metamorphosing into elvers (small versions of adult eels). They then become yellow eels, with brownish-yellow sides and belly, and then finally silver eels with larger eyes and silver flanks and white bellies. At this stage, they return to the ocean to spawn. The illustration depicts a European eel in its yellow eel stage.

To this day, it is not known exactly how eels undertake their 6,000 kilometre migrations to their spawning grounds. Additionally, during some of their overland migrations, they have been known to cross grass, wet sand, roads, carparks and more to reach water sources. Eel ladders have been constructed in different parts of Europe to assist with migration, where man-made obstructions have provided barriers. European eels are an important source of food to humans at different stages of their life cycle. Captive eels have lived to over 80 years. They are primarily threatened by overfishing, parasites, pollution, barriers to migration, and changes to water currents.