Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

New research into European Eel predation

Important new research into predation of the European Eel Evidence on its marine migration has just been published.

An abstract is below, the full report can be found here

Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 01/2014;

Evidence of marine mammal predation of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) on its marine migration

Magnus Wahlberg, Håkan Westerberg, Kim Aarestrup, Eric Feunteun, Paddy Gargan, David Righton

ABSTRACT Temperature and depth logging tags were implanted into adult eels released on Atlantic west coasts of France and Ireland to study their oceanic migration behavior. For three of the tags, 25 to 256 days after release there was a dramatic rise in temperature from 10 °C to 36 °C and the dive profile changed from depths of 300–1000 m to repeated ascents to the surface. This indicated that the eels carrying the tags had been eaten by a mammalian predator. Two of the tags had sufficient sampling rate to resolve the dives in detail. They recorded a total of 91 dives to maximum depths of 250–860 m lasting 11–12 min and with surface intervals of 5–7 min. More than two thirds of the dives included a rapid descent from approximately 500 m to 600–700 m. From this we infer that the predator was most likely a deep-diving toothed whale. The dives logged while the tags were inside the predator revealed that the temperature usually decreased during dives, and increased again during surface periods. The temperature drops during dives were probably caused by the ingestion of prey or water. These observations provide insights into the behavior of toothed whales foraging in the mesopelagic zone