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Eel lifecycle

The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is another species that migrates between freshwater and the sea, but it adopts the opposing (catadromous) life strategy to salmonids, by breeding in a specific region of the North Atlantic (probably the Sargasso Sea), from where ocean currents transport the young eels (leptocephali) back to European coasts.  The young eels generally enter freshwater to grow and mature, although some may remain in estuaries or coastal waters rather than moving upstream. European eels are thought to comprise a single reproductive population and all regional populations are therefore potential contributors to the overall spawning escapement of the European stock.

eel life cycleDiagram of the life cycle of the European eel (redrawn from White and Knights, 1994)

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Last Modified: 27 April 2014