Anguilla rostrata (Lesueur), 1817
* Anguilla rostrata Report on ITIS
The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, is a catadromous fish found on the eastern coast of North America. It has a snake-like body with a small sharp pointed head. It is brown on top and a tan-yellow color on the bottom. It has sharp pointed teeth but no pelvic fins. It is very similar to the European eel, but the two species differ in number of chromosomes and vertebrae.#The eel lives in fresh water and only leaves this habitat to enter the Atlantic ocean for spawning. It takes 9 to 10 weeks for the eggs to hatch. After hatching, young eels move toward North America and enter freshwater systems to mature. The female can lay up to 4 million buoyant eggs a year, but dies after egg-laying.
The eel is found around the Atlantic coast including Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson River. It prefers to hunt at night, and during the day it hides in mud, sand or gravel very close to shore, roughly 5 to 6 feet under.
American eels are economically very important to the East Coast and rivers where they travel. They are caught by fishermen and sold, eaten, or kept as pets. Eels help the Atlantic coast ecosystem by eating dead fish, invertebrates, carrion, insects, and if hungry enough, they will cannibalize each other.
Although many anglers are put off by the snake-like appearance of these catadromous fish, eels are in fact exceptionally good fish. They are usually caught by anglers fishing for something else. The world record weight for the American eel is 9.25 pounds.
American eel have a multitude of life stages: leptocephali, glass eel, yellow eel, and silver eel. Leptocephali metamorphose into glass eel as they migrate toward land and freshwater bodies. Glass eel develop into a pigmented stage as they move into brackish or freshwater. Usually by age two, small, pigmented eels make the transition into the yellow eel stage. Yellow eel inhabit fresh, brackish, and saltwater habitats where they feed primarily on invertebrates and smaller fishes. Sexual maturity occurs around 4 1/2 years of age. When yellow eel start to sexually mature, they begin a downstream migration toward the Sargasso Sea spawning grounds. During this migration yellow eel metamorphose into the adult silver eel phase, undergoing several physiological changes. Adult silver eel are believed to spawn in the Sargasso Sea during winter and early spring.
American eel inhabit many different bodies of water throughout their lifetime and different life cycles, which makes them extremely hard to manage because of their frequent movement between jurisdictions.
In 2010, Greenpeace International has added the american eel to its seafood red list. "The Greenpeace International seafood red list is a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries."
1. ^ "Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: American Eel Profile". http://www.asmfc.org/speciesDocuments/eel/eelProfile.pdf. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
* Anguilla rostrata (TSN 161127). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on 30 January 2006.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License