An American eel was found in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda, almost 1,500 miles away from its known habitat.
Eels were never known to swim long distances, but a shocking new discovery may prove this theory to be wrong. According to a report from Discovery News, scientists have found an American eel in the Sargasso Sea, nearly 1,500 miles from its closest known habitat.
The adult American eel was tracked leaving the east coast of Canada, traveling past the continental shelf and through the depths of the mid-Atlantic, until it arrived at the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda.
Scientists traced the eel’s migration and published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. The study is the first known evidence of an American eel making such a lengthy journey. American eels have been spotted miles inland in rivers in North America, and their larvae has been spotted in the Sargasso Sea, but this marks the first time an individual was spotted in both locations.
According to Martin Castonguay of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the study “sheds light on an often under-appreciated species, which performs one of the longest and most amazing migrations in the animal kingdom.”
The study’s lead author, Melanie Beguer-Pon of Dalhouise University, along with Castonguay and a number of other colleagues, fitted 38 adult American eels with tracking devices to follow their movements via satellite after being released on the Canadian east coast.
Some of the eels were eaten by predators, but eight of them were logged entering the open ocean 1.2 miles below the surface. Only one eel, Star, made it all the way to the northern rim of the Sargasso Sea.
“You can think of the Sargasso Sea as the Eel Mecca,” Castonguay said. “There are over 30 species of eels spawning in the Sargasso Sea, but only two species invade continental waters during their growth phase: the American eel and the European eel.”
The researchers will continue to improve their methods of attaching tags to eels in the hopes of gaining further insight into the migratory patterns of these extraordinary creatures.