Anguilla Anguilla a.k.a. European eel faces extinction threat

The Anguilla Anguilla or European eel is amongst one of the highly endangered marine species today. According to an article from the Guardian, the population of the eels has declined by 95% over the last 25 years. And people, especially the fishermen, fisheries officials and conservationists are baffled over this mystery of the vanishing eels which is occurring in the Al. They simply cannot pinpoint the main cause of this.

On one hand, environment changes could have played a role in causing this. Kevin Friedland, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.) biologist and his colleagues’ research has found a significant correlation between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO - a type of ocean-atmospheric pattern) , and the variation in the number of glass eels (juvenile stage) caught. He said that, “Changing ocean conditions in the Sargasso Sea (the hatching area) caused by the NAO could be affecting the recruitment and survival of European eels.” Similarly, other natural-occurring variations, for instance, the North Atlantic Drift and the Gulf Stream might also have contributed to this phenomenon. This is because the eels are hatched in freshwater lakes in America first, and they travel to their respective oceans upon reaching the juvenile stage.

Furthermore, the decline could have also occurred due to over-fishing, given the large demand for the fishes in the far-east. At one time, a kilo of glass eels itself was worth 500 pounds, tempting fishermen to use illegal nets to scoop “as many up as possible”. Adult eels are also caught for the same purpose. Therefore, with the eels being caught continuously without any restrictions, there is no doubt that the population of eels would decline so drastically to the verge of extinction.

Besides this, the construction of man-made structures has contributed to this emergency too. By building structures that obstruct the paths of the young eels, we are basically preventing the European eels from reaching the Atlantic Ocean, their spawning ground, trapping them hence, causing the premature deaths of the eels.

Lastly, the population of European eels could have declined because of the introduction of parasites to their habitats, for example, Anguillicola Crassus, a parasitic nematode worm that lives in the swim bladders of the eels. These parasites are a threat to the eels because they can spread easily among the eel populations upon being introduced to water. Using the preys of the eels as hosts, these parasites enter the eels’ body when it gets consumed along with its hosts by them. Soon, the infected eels’ swim bladder will collapse causing its death due to its inability to stay afloat. The deaths of these eels along and those caused by the other factors eventually caused its population to decline rapidly

Just like other endangered animals, the problem that the European eel is facing should not be left unsolved. Unless any actions is taken by the relevant authorities, nothing can help the eels to save themselves from extinction.

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