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A Fascinating Fish

Eels are a unique fish with surprising characteristics. They travel more than 8000 km in their lifetime, leaving their place of birth in the Sargasso Sea and returning there to reproduce and die 20 to 30 years later.

Head and shoulder view of a young boy dressed in winter clothing, proudly holding an eel in his hands. He is showing the eel’s head. The river can be seen in the background.

Jérémie, the youngest child of Josée Malenfant and Simon Beaulieu, both eel fishers in Rivière-Ouelle, 2016

Eels undergo remarkable physiological changes in the course of their long life cycle, before becoming the silver eels that people fish. Female eels sometimes measure over 1.5 m long, while males are smaller, measuring on average 90 cm long.

The Life Cycle of Eels – View this video with a transcript

Several characteristics make eel unique. For example, they can move outside the water and survive there for several days. If a natural obstacle or a dam blocks their route, they will go around it by sliding on the ground, preferably when it is a bit wet. They can perform this feat thanks to the position of their gills and the fact that they can breathe through their skin.

Anyone who has ever touched an eel knows that its skin is very slimy. This is one of its means of defence.

A Good Means of Defence – View this video with a transcript