Facts About Eels

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  • There are over 400 species of Eels in the world, occupying both saltwater and fresh water habitats. Although eels look like snakes, they are fish and come from the order Anguilliformes.
  • Eels start life as transparent larva and remain in that state for 6 – 12 months. During this time they can float thousands of miles through the open seas. After the larval phase, they become elvers and although not sexually mature, they look more like an adult eel.
  • They move through water with an undulating motion. They feed at night and rest in the day. They possess an excellent sense of smell that helps them hunt for their prey.
  • Most moray eels average 5 feet in length. The largest species, the slender giant moray eel, can grow to 13 feet in length.
  • Courting eels open their mouths wide and wrap their bodies around each other for hours. They separate only when the female has laid her eggs. The males then fertilize the eggs.
  • Eels are carnivorous, meaning they are meat eaters. They eat a variety of animals such as worms, snails, frogs, shrimp, mussels, lizards and other small fish. They generally hunt for food at night.
  • They have poor eyesight and often bite fingers of divers who give them food.
  • Eels live in shallow waters or hide at the bottom of the oceans in holes which are called eel pits. Eels can swim backwards and forwards. They can travel on land for short distances.
  • The life span of an eel is about 85 years.
  • The electric eel is a South American freshwater fish found mainly in the Amazon River basin. The electric charge is produced by special organs along the sides of the eel’s body. The electric discharge can be stronger than 500 volts. The eel uses the electric charge against its predators and to catch its prey.

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