Do eels come close to the shore?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Eels do come close to the shore. It has been observed for thousands of years that American eels spend most of their adult lives inland or in close proximity to the shore. This is primarily because humans have been catching eels in these areas for centuries.

The fact that eels are often found near the shore is not just based on historical evidence, but also on scientific research. We know that eels spawn in the open ocean because their tiny, transparent larvae are found there. This suggests that eels must make their way from the shore to the open ocean to reproduce.

The life cycle of an eel is quite fascinating. After hatching from their eggs in the open ocean, the larvae drift with the currents and eventually make their way towards the coast. As they approach the shore, they undergo a remarkable transformation. Their bodies become more elongated, and they develop the ability to breathe air through their skin. This enables them to survive in freshwater environments.

Once the eels reach the shoreline, they typically migrate inland, often traveling up rivers or streams. They are known for their ability to navigate through various obstacles, such as dams and waterfalls, using a combination of body movements and an acute sense of smell. This inland migration allows them to find suitable habitats, such as freshwater lakes or ponds, where they will spend most of their adult lives.

While eels do spend the majority of their adult lives inland, they still have a connection to the open ocean. In order to reproduce, adult eels must make the journey back to the ocean. This is known as the spawning migration. During this migration, eels can travel thousands of miles to reach their spawning grounds.

The exact mechanisms that trigger the eels’ spawning migration are not fully understood. However, it is believed that factors such as changes in water temperature, lunar cycles, and the presence of specific chemical cues play a role in guiding the eels back to the ocean.

The behavior of eels suggests that they do come close to the shore. They spend most of their adult lives inland or in nearshore areas, where they have been historically caught by humans. The fact that their larvae are found in the open ocean indicates that eels must make the journey from the shore to the ocean to reproduce. This complex life cycle highlights the remarkable adaptability and survival strategies of these fascinating creatures.