Kinder University 's / RUTGERS eelBASE

here some information and projects on European Eel (Anguilla anguilla), American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) and other Anguillidae will be collected soon

from the Jacques Yves Cousteau Estuarine Research Reserve USA

visit the cyber-eel aquaculture farm where eels are educated to walk out of the water for feeding

some literature, images, articles in newspapers, videos, common knowledge, education, expeditions

new: Online Ocean Microscope @ Lifesaving Station @ the most narrow part of the Great Bay Inlet

new: immigration help @ a former SuperFund seeping creek into the Cousteau Reserve

new: science fiction: ecoRANK - eel-plankton nanotechnology ecoSENSOR for the NeXT generation

new: song: the glasseels are back again

leptocephalus of the ocean eel Conger oceanicus (Mitchill)

round glasseel larvae of American Eel Anguilla rostrata at the moment of immigration into the USA, at the beach of Port Republic, searching for fresh water. The flat shape of the body has changed into the typical round crossection, the inner organs develop and the animal starts to take its first food - all within a few hours after encountering the first fresh water in its life. At that status only one line of pigments has developed. Typical is the oblique swimming position, due to the lack of a jet functioning swimbladder.

This image was taken in the middle of the night, clear sky, 1/4 moon, 16 degree centigrade, 85 % oxygen saturation, 2.7 salinity at our LEO 0.03 site in 3 cm water (in the movie you can see the little waves on some images). Ultra short strobe illumination with infrared flashes and some physical tricks are used to image the organism without disturbing it (project conversion of military technology into oceanography). The high resolution images are transmitted via a plastic fibre optic into our coastal lab in the town, from there to our web server. A life video link ( ) is under construction - pending on money and technical / political support. This is a composite image, part of a full speed video. The resolution is high enough to allow for counting of the vertebra, estimation of gut content and checks of damages - swimming speed and direction is evaluated with our softwarepackage dynIMAGE. For the scientific work it is not so important that the images are beautiful, but that they are describing the undisturbed life in situ, are quantitative, calibrated and associated with oceanographic data - our speciality at the LEO sites. Because such events are very rare, the systems have to be ready to go on a long term status. To our knowledge these new videos are the highest resolution stealth recordings of an ocean critter taken in the dark ever.
under construction: Bilderbuch and multiplatform interactive CD ROM with stories, anecdotes, games artware, songs and sounds of the coasts from both sides of the Atlantic
take a look through our eel cyberMICROSCOPE - investigate yourself what bad education can do to the tiny guests from the wide oceans - if you want to join us on a project to educate small business aquaculturists or environmentalists how to collect, handle, raise, sell, or stock US inland waters with this fascinating animal or how to do science and ecoEDUCATION with glasseel contact us - we work on an international project that is aimed to have people in the year 2000 earning more money by protecting and promoting Anguilla than by abusing it. We found over the last years (investigating many countries - with the latest of technology like remote sensing, night visons or high penetration optics), that enforcement and licensing based on poor knowledge or revenue killed and humbled millions of eel in the US alone - nothing hurts more the now returning glasseel migrations than pushing them into a greyzone. Over the last three years millions of eel died in abandoned stealth nets, in trunks of cars, refrigerators of hobbyists, poor dealing facilities, international deportations, under the boots of people driven into the creeks by shortsighted officers, or even in front of customs calling undereducated-eager-obedient Umweltministerium officials (like German newspapers reported on eels immigrating at Hamburg Airport).

if you have any information or images you would like to contribute please sent email to

distribution and size of leptocephali larvae of the european eel Anguilla anguilla (click on USA to see American eel distribution)

distribution and size of leptocephali larvae of the american eel Anguilla rostrata (click on Europa to see Anguilla anguilla distribution)

from U.S. Geological Survey - on IOWA and New Jersey you can click already - more later

The story of the eel was long time mysterious and much of it is still today.

Aristoteles did the first known research on eels, stating, that they are born by "earth worms", who emerged from the mud, without fertilization needed, just from the "guts of wet soil". And for a long time nobody could prove that Aristoteles was wrong.

Later scientists believed, that the eelpout Zoarces was the "mother of the glasseels".

In 1777 the italian MONDINI found the gonads and showed that eels are fish.

Until 1893 a transparent, leaflike two-inch oceancreature was named an own species: Leptocephalus breviroshis (from greek, leptocephalus means "thin- or flat-head"). But then the italian zoologist Giovanni Batista Grassi observed in the Mediterranean Sea the transformation of a "Leptocephalus" into a round glasseel, and the french ROSCOFF proved in a laboratory that both are the same species. The name for the very unusual larval form however is still used today. The search for a location of spawning sites remained fruitless, and even today stayed still mysterious - we know more about other planets than the first days of eellife!

The dane JOHANNES SCHMIDT, from 1904 on, raised money from the Queen for many expeditions, reaching out into the Mediterranean Sea, the North Atlantic and postulated from the similarity of all leptocephali he found, that they all must originate from the same parent species. The further into the Atlantic he propelled research ships and money givers, the smaller the leptocephali he caught. Finally he ended up south of the Bermudas in 1922, where he succeeded to catch the smallest eelbabies ever seen, in the Sargasso Sea, the part of the Atlantic, which has been one of the most mysterious places of the planet and still is, over 5000 meter deep. But never the spawning itself has been observed nor a ready to spawn adult ever been found in nature. From the size distribution he formulated this part of the life history of eel:

The larvae of the European Eels travel with the Gulf Stream across the ocean and reach after three years England at a size of 45 mm. The most famous place for mass-collecting glasseels for deli-food and stocking is Epney at the Severn in England. They migrate up the rivers, crossing all kinds of natural challenges, sometimes by piling up their bodies by the tenthousands to reach even the smallest creeks. They can wind themselves even over wet grass and dig through wet sand to reach headwaters upstream and ponds, immigrating the continent. In freshwater they start pigmentation, turn into elvers and feed on life creatures like small crustaceans, worms and insects to grow up in 10 to 14 years to a length of 60 to 80 cm. They are called yellow eels because of their golden pigmentation.

But then in July their instinct drives them back towards the seas, crossing even wet grasslands during the nights to reach into their rivers. On their migration out of the Baltic through the danish belts they were the basis of traditional fisheries with characteristic trapnets (bundgarn).

Whether the adults can ever make the 4000 miles open ocean journey back to their spawning grounds north of the Antilles, Haiti and Puerto Rico remained unknown. By the time they leave the continent their guts dissolve, so they have to rely on stored energy alone. Their body undergoes other dramatic changes again: the eyes start to grow, the eye pigments change for optimal vision in dim blue clear ocean lights and their bodysides turn silvery, best suited to be as invisible as possible during the long open ocean cruise ahead and past many awaiting predators. Many call these migrating eels now "Silver Eel" or "Big Eyes".

The german fisheries biologist TESCH, one of the best recognised eel persons and author of the book "The eel" equipped many expeditions with high tech instrumentation following their migration, first down the Baltic, then along Norway, England but finally lost their transmitter signals at the continental shelf when batteries and funding ran out. He -like Schmidt- kept on trying to convince moneygivers again, and his proposals to release 50 Silver Eels from danish waters with probes, that will detach from eels each second day, float up and broadcast position, depth and temperature to our satellites should have been funded long ago, possibly joint by an equivalent release experiment from the countries and eels of the western coasts of the Atlantic. So today our knowledge on the fate of the eels once they left the continental shelf is based on three eels found in the stomachs of deep sea fish and a whale wet of Ireland and off the Azores and some experiments on fife eels (more on those expeditions by Tesch and Fricke soon).

Nobody knows why, but beginning in the mid 80th the leptocephalus arrival in the spring dropped drastically, in Germany to 1/10, France 1/7 - as reported even by conservative opinions. Also data from Maine and other North American coasts show declines - not as drastic jet.

This year in Europa the demand for the first time ever could not be met, and dealers from Asia bought all they could grab. The traditional european stocking programs could not compete any longer: each week the price for a kg of glasseel went up another 30 dollars. Even before the '97 generation hit the coasts of Europa dealers from China alone  placed advance orders for more than 250 000 kg, some bidding more than  $ 1100 per kg.

The demand for adult eels is exploding along the last three years. Germany imports now even eel for more than 50 million dollars last year. In Europa 25 000 000 kg are consumed each year, but in Japan alone more than 100 000 000 kg in 1996. New eel aquaculture plants pop up every month in Asia, high tech factories, and the capacity of the japanese eel Anguilla japonica, is long overrun by orders of magnitude. No eel ever could be raised artificially, investments of Japan government for artificial propagation just spawned 7 million dollars to 4 private companies. Eggs from artificially spawned eels (treated with hormones) have a diameter of about 1 mm, each female can produce 2 to 10 million eggs.

Also in Germany science politicians now suddenly discovers interest in the eel again and invests into large scale eel science, but maybe there is not much left to follow now: The multi million dollar expedition of the german Research vessel POSEIDON in 1993 to the Bermudas, under the direction of the german fisheries biologist Dietrich Schnack and Dieter Adelung came home frustrated and with little results, one of the few publications of this dramatic effort reported on two eels released who descended to about 250 meter, one heading southwest, and a few very interesting but only university-based simulation of computer eels migrations in a simulated Atlantic flowfield by the physical oceanographer Rolf Kaese (details soon). And this even though the state of the art POSEIDON RV, the largest of the Institut fuer Meereskunde Kiel, was outfitted with the latest acoustic improvements from Kiel, home of underwater acoustic technologies, with one of the best manned submersibles of the world, the famous JAGO, with one of the most renewed behavioral scientists from the groundbraking LORENZ Seewiesen Behavior Institute, Hans Fricke, who beforehand even found Latimeria, with the most advanced in situ optical instrumentation setup ever onboard a ship, adopted from the ecoSCOPE within a more than 3 million dollar effort - the European Eels kept most of their secrets in the Bermuda Triangle in 1993.

There are strong concerns, that the european might cease by a new unnatural threatening: By the recent infection with Anguillicola crassus, a foreign parasitic nematode of the swimbladder of eels. This parasite from East Asia (original host: Anguilla japonica) appeared in European eel populations in the early eighties. Since 1995 it also appeared in the USA (Texas and South Carolina), most likely by scrupulous , uncontrolled aquaculture eel shipments. In Europe eel populations are infected already by 30% to 100% with that nematode. Recently it was shown that this parasite inhibits the function of the swimbladder as hydrostatic organ (Wuertz et al. 1996). For an open ocean voyager without the carrying capacity of the swim bladder (ca. 3 - 6 % of the bodyweight), it seems to be little hope to ever cross the ocean on energetic grounds alone.

But now finally some more research gets funded to follow the eels on their magic cruises over the seas. There is another Atlantic Eel species: the American Eel, Anguilla rostrata. First it was believed they were of the same origin, so close is their appearance and behavior, but some years ago genetic work distinguished two species. The spawning grounds must be very close together, rostrata probably more to the west, maybe some even within the Gulf. These leptocephali exit the Gulf Stream earlier and immigrate the eastcoast states at an age of one year already between February to late April at a length of about 60 mm. They are now the goal of world wide operating dealers and since three year the cause of a "gold rush" revival, this time a "Wild East", but with real pistols and prices fife times as high as silver.

But maybe this is the last chance to study the biology of eels in a natural setting.

Germany sent its behavioral ecologist Uwe Kils under a HEISENBERG AWARD, outfitted by the Bioscience Price of VOLKSWAGEN FOUNDATION and the BALTIC FOUNDATION to follow the eel migration on the western side of the Atlantic. From Cape Hatteras point on the Outer Banks, passing Atlantic City, New York, Port Republic Batsto dam, into the salt marshes, rivers, creeks, grasses lakes and ponds on their immigration into the North American continent new and advanced ecoSCOPE prototypes now observe the life history, trying to get more data and images on micro distribution and behavior, day and night. But it is not certain wether these instruments, who successfully imaged the transparent Krill in the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean or the extremely fast and evasive juvenile Herring in the Baltic or the return of juvenile stripers into the turbid waters of New York Harbor are sufficient enough yet for the eel story.

Together with the efforts of several universities from both sides of the Atlantic, private donators, politicians and kids, conversion of military technology and medical instrumentation we hope to help to find enough scientific data on this still more intact side of the Atlantic, so our children might again see the fascinating "glass walls" in the spring at every millpond, when thousands of baby eels once helped each other to climb up one of the new developments mankind put into their cruise, after safely crossing the wild oceans. Hopefully this knowledge, projects and education will also reflect back to Europa, that by 2002 even in the Lautrups Creek (10 years ago one of the most ruined and stinky creeks on the globe, now slowly recovering) the LAUTRUPS Millpond dam will be travelled again  by eels and the "glasswall from the Bermuda Triangle" can attract and fascinate again the kids from Flensburg.

We now even get the help from the entertainment industry, after there it was discovered, how much interest is on the story of lost ATLANTIS:

One nice eel story claims, that both eel families once upon a time lived on the peaceful shores of ATLANTIS, and even when Alfred Wegener began to push America westwards, they gathered again once a year in ATLANTIS for some joint fun. So over many, many years each spring they gained a little bitty more skills in travelling, and in navigation as well, to overcome the four centimeters Alfred made good that past winter. Today they still meet in ATLANTIS, every year, make often jokes about that species of Homo sapiens, which in the eel language have become named Homo leptocephalus. The oldes t eel, his name is Alfred rostrata, brought in rumors he heard passing Cape Kennedy, that leptocephali meanwhile even walked the moon, others were seen even "developing" most of what they call "dangerous" salt marshes, another old eel reported, he saw travelling around Point Hatteras some leptocephali constructing "shells" even on their Outer Banks now, but when Alfred told the story, that these many leptocephali in spite of all their new "develpments" fall still short searching for the fun place of the most renown fish of the planet, the eel's party laughing could be heard all over the Hatteras Abyssal plain - even up to Atlantis City, New York and the echo reflected from the New England Sea Mountains. Next day a newspaper-leptocephali wrote in the ATLANTIS CITY PPRESS, he felt he had heard the "oceans grumbling", which in the Homo sapiens language would be translated to hurricans.

Nobody knows how the transoceanic eelparty at the edge of the deepest and steepest slope in the Atlantic, the Puerto Rico Trench, close to the 9600 meter deep Milwaukee hole, will respond in the spring of 1998, when old and tired August rostrata, just getting ready for his cruise north of Port Republic, heading soon southwards, will report about the huge, huge beany-baby-eels he will wonder about passing the -once even to eels renown- famous beaches of Atlantic City. Will the eel council interpret these as a gigantic and remarkable monument to remember and respect the eels needs, or will they laugh so loud, that the artware is washed away to join the Museum of Modern art in the real ATLANTIS, where old, wise and far travelled eel teach the eel kids about leptocephali's tastes and cultures. Lets really hope August will not catch a glimpse of the titelpage of THE PRESS of ATLANTIC CITY from Monday April 7th or the New York Times, because -and not many know that- the most important role the eel have on the planet - and that is also the reason, they are so careful, that the real leptocephali will never follow them to their communication site - is, that they are trusted by mother nature to be the keeper of the key locking the switch of the strongest force the ocean has, the trigger of Tsunamis, and that no CNN cameraman might waist his videotape on a short glimpse some artists of ABYSS sketched behind the VAREZZANO BRIDGE sneaking towards Manhattan to rinse the Hudson for a new generation of undisturbed eelbabies - und wenn sie nicht gestorben sind, so leben sie noch heute.

Draft of the ATLANTIC STATES MARINE  FISHERIES COMMISSION - Washington - for "Public Hearings" in the 15 atlantic-coast USA states: "Fisheries Management Plan For the American Eel" - a decision making document where our project contributed
project BUYaBABY to help glasseels to migrate into the US waters, we construct climbing aids at obstructions and buy eels for releasing them upriver, saving them from deportation to foreign countries, unprofessional handling and predation

links to other sites:

general information

migration: Simulated migration of European silver eel: effects of long term swimming and parasitic infection pressure on energy balance and gonadal development



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some literature (uncomplete, unchecked!)

A bibliography of the eels of the genus Anguilla. Fisheries Research Board of Canada Tech. Report 28. 171 pages.(Lower Water Street Fisheries Library) Facey, D.E., and M.J. Van Den Avyle. 1986.

Species profiles: life histories and environmental requirements of coastal fishes and invertebrates (North Atlantic)--American eel. U.S.

Fish Wildl. Serv. Biol. Rep. 82(11.74). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, TR EL-82-4. 28 p. (Lower Water Street Fisheries Library)

Fahay, M.P. 1978. Biological and fisheries data on American eel, Anguilla rostrata (LeSueur). U.S. Natl. Mar. Fish. Ser. Tech. Ser. R ep. No. 17, Northeast

Fisheries Center, Highlands, New Jersey. 82 p.(Lower Water Street Fisheries Library)

Kleckner, R.C., and J.D. McCleave. 1985. Spatial and temporal distribution of American eel larvae in relation to North Atlantic Ocean current systems. Dana 4:67-92.(Lower Water Street Fisheries Library)

Bigelow. H.B., and W.C. Schroeder. 1953. Fishes of the Gulf of Maine. U.S. Fish and Wildlif. Serv. Fish Bull., 53: 1-577 ( Fish Bulletin No. 74).(Lower Water Street Fisheries Library)

Scott, W.B., and M.G. Scott. 1988. Atlantic Fishes of Canada. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Number 219. 731 pages (Bedford Institute of Oceanography Library call number (Ref. QL 626.5 .A8 238 1988)

Smith, M.W., and J.W. Saunders. 1955. The American Eel in certain fresh waters of the maritime provinces of Canada. J. Fish. Res. Board. Can. 12(2):238-269.(Lower Water Street Fisheries Library) life tu

Cooper, E. L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA.

Gerking, S. D. 1945. Distribution of the fishes of Indiana. Investigations of Indiana Lakes and Streams 3:1-137.

McCosker, J. E. 1989. Freshwater eels (family Anguillidae) in California: current conditions and future scenarios. California Fish and Game 75(1):4-10.

Minckley, W. L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.

Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Popov, B. H., and J. B. Low. 1953. Game, fur animal, and fish introductions into Utah. Utah State Department of Fish and Game Publication 4, pp. 1-85.

Ray, M. - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Austin, TX.

Sigler, F. F., and R. R. Miller. 1963. Fishes of Utah. Utah Department of Fish and Game, Salt Lake City, UT. 203 pp.

Skinner, J. E. 1971. Anguilla recorded from California. California Fish and Game 57(1):76-79.

Smith, H. M. 1896. A review of the history and results of the attempts to acclimatize fish and other water animals in the Pacific states. Pages 379-472 in Bulletin of the U.S. Fish Commission, Vol. XV, for 1895.

Trautman, M. B. 1981. The fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH.

Ward, R. - Texas Parks and Wildlife, Palacios, TX.

Williamson, G. R., and O. Tabeta. 1991. Search for Anguilla eels on the West Coast of North America and on the Aleutian and Hawaiian Islands. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 38(3):315-317.

Zuckerman, L. D., and R. J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Pages 435-452 in R. H. Stroud, editor.

Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Lake Ozark, MO, March 31-April 3, 1985. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD. r aal larven kirkwood cohansey aquifier grundwasser krebs cancer breast cancer brustkrebs ebs kinder krebs child cancer children cancer cancer alley

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