Cape Breton's Magazine

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Page 17 - The Life of the Eel

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1973/3/1 (1630 reads)
 

will have made their journey in one year, and the European eel will have taken three years. They are both now known as Glass Eels. It is spring. And just before entering fresh water a grey pigmentation spreads over their bodies and the transparency is gone. Their bodies become more cylindrical. They are known as Elvers. Not all the young will migrate into fresh water; some will remain in brackish water of tidal marshes, harbours and bays back of barrier beaches, especially in beds of eel grass (Zostera). It is generally the females that go on to live in fresh water. They move into fresh water by the millions, and with incredible drive. They go over waterfalls. They have been known to travel through underground streams and even to crawl a distance overland through grass that is wet with rain or dew • to reach a land-locked body of water. It is not known what determines which body of water a particular eel will ta'e. With salmon, he is returning to the place he was born, and there are theories indicating that he is taken back by a memory of the odor of that place. But the eel can have no such memory;he is driven over obstacles to waters he has never known before. They come in great quantities but are the prey of fish un- till the survivors are larger and become themselves the predator. Then they eat all kinds of animal food, living and dead, including eggs and young fish. They are vora? cious. Men who fish them with hook and line often take a supply of hooks. The eel takes the hook way down into his gullet. Fishermen cut the line, re-hook and later retrieve their hooks when cleaning the fish. It is not known exactly how long eels remain in fresh water. They have been found in lengths up to 4 feet, weighing up to 16 1/2 poimds. The females are generally larger than the males. After a number of years, the urge to spawn comes upon them. They never spawn in fresh water, but begin a migration downstream that takes place mostly at night. In Cape Breton this happens from mid-August to September, It is then they are taken in 20 foot fyke nets in Margaree Harbour, When they reach salt water their guts degenerate and they will never eat again. Their color has turned almost black, the ventral sides silvery. The eyes of the males double in size. They disappear from sight, travelling deep, heading back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and die. No spent eels have ever been seen, and large eels have never been known to rtrn t'pstream again. Once cold weather comes on, those that will remain burrow into the bottom mud. It is these that are speared through the ice. Our major sources in preparing this article were F. H, Wooding, The Angler's Book of Canadian Fishes and H. B. Bigelow and W.C. Schroeder, Pishes of the Gulf of Maine. Our thanks to George Thomas II, Margaree Harbour, for the use of his photograph. jCj/nwood ANTIQUES ART HANDICRAFTS WOOLENS BADDECK, NOVA SCOTIA P.O.BOX 178 295-2950 Wooico Pharmacy operated by Manson Drugs Ltd. OLD AS 1903: Still offering the same old fashion service to Cape Breton. NEW AS 1973: Offering Drug Plans, Charge Cards, Delivery, Health Foods and most important • a Hearty Thank You for shopping Wooico Pharmacy. 70 YEARS OF SERVICE CARA RESTAURANT located at the SYDNEY AIRPORT Cafeteria Hours 6 AM to 12 PM Dining Room Hours 11 AM to 11:30 PM HYLMD HOTIRS UNITED McKeen Street Vour Chrysler Dealer 849-5588 Glace Bay Cape Breton's Magazine/17
Cape Breton's Magazine
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