Anguilla anguilla, European eel : fisheries, aquaculture, gamefish

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Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus 1758)

European eel
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Native range | All suitable habitat | Point map | Year 2100
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Anguilla anguilla   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Anguilla anguilla (European eel)
Anguilla anguilla
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Classificatie / Names Populaire namen | Synoniemen | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

> Anguilliformes (Eels and morays) > Anguillidae (Freshwater eels)
Etymology: Anguilla: Latin, anguilla, .-ae = eel (Ref. 45335).  More on author: Linnaeus.

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecologie

; marien; zoetwater; brakwater demersaal; katadroom (Ref. 51243); diepteverspreiding 0 - 700 m (Ref. 54218).   Temperate; 4°C - 20°C (Ref. 2059); 75°N - 8°N, 82°W - 45°E (Ref. 42249)

Verspreiding Landen | FAO regio's | Ecosystems | Voorkomen | Point map | Introducties | Faunafri

Atlantic Ocean: Atlantic coast from Scandinavia to Morocco; Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas; rivers of North Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean seas (Ref. 172, Ref. 51442). Continuous introductions to Asia and South and Central America. Spawning area in western Atlantic (Sargasso Sea). At least one country reports adverse ecological impact after introduction. Recent genomic DNA studies show that the European eel exhibits isolation by distance, implying that non-random mating and restricted gene flow among eels from different location exists (Ref. 43723). The existence of 3 genetically distinct sub-populations is suggested: a Northern European subpopulation (consisting mainly of the Icelandic stocks); a Western European subpopulation (including the Baltic, the Mediterranean and Black Sea); a Southern sub-population (including stocks of Morocco) (Ref. 43723, 89139). International trade restricted (CITES Appendix II, since 13.3.2009).

Length at first maturity / Size / Gewicht / Leeftijd

Maturity: Lm ?, range 45 - 65 cm
Max length : 122 cm TL mannelijk/geslacht niet bekend; (Ref. 88166); 133.0 cm TL (female); common length : 35.0 cm TL mannelijk/geslacht niet bekend; (Ref. 6125); common length :50 cm TL (female); Maximaal gepubliceerd gewicht: 6.6 kg (Ref. 39903); Maximaal gepubliceerd gewicht: 6.6 kg; Maximaal vermelde leeftijd: 88 jaren (Ref. 72468)

Korte beschrijving Morfologie | Morfometrie

Dorsale stekels (totaal): 0; Anale stekels 0; Wervels: 110 - 120. Elongated, anguilliform body (Ref. 51442), cylindrical anteriorly, somewhat compressed posteriorly (Ref. 6125). Lower jaw slightly longer and projecting (Ref. 6125, Ref. 51442). Gill openings small and vertical, restricted to the sides (Ref. 6125). Elongated dorsal and anal fins, confluent with caudal fin (Ref. 6125, Ref. 51442), forming one unique fin from the anus to the middle of the back with minimum 500 soft rays (Ref. 40476). Dorsal fin origin far behind pectoral fins; anal fin origin slightly behind anus, well back from origin of dorsal fin (Ref. 6125). Pelvic fins absent (Ref. 2196, Ref. 51442). Greenbrown colored (Ref. 51442).

Biologie     Verklarende woordenlijst (b.v. epibenthic)

Inhabits all types of benthic habitats from streams to shores of large rivers and lakes. Naturally found only in water bodies connected to the sea (Ref. 59043). Territorial and solitary species; 'schools' of young eels which are observed from time to time are a mass response to outward conditions and not of active assembling (Ref. 172). Amphihaline (Ref. 51442). Migrates to the depths of the Sargasso Sea to spawn (Ref. 172, 51442). Eel larvae (leptocephali) are transparent ribbon-like. They are brought to the coasts of Europe by the Gulf Stream in 7 to 11 months time (Ref. 51442) and can last for up to 3 years (Ref. 8994). They are transformed into glass eels (6-8 cm length, cylindrical in shape and transparent to slightly pigmented in colour). They enter the estuaries and colonize rivers and lakes (Ref. 11941, 51442); some individuals remain in estuaries and coastal waters to grow into adults (Ref. 88171). The glass eel stage is followed by a long feeding period (from the yellow to the silver eel stage) lasting 6-12 years in males (Ref. 6125) and 9-20 years in females (Ref. 6125). Yellow and silver eels are benthic, found under stones, buried in the mud or in crevices (Ref. 89138). Yellow eels eventually lose their pigmentation, becoming dark dorsally and silver ventrally (called silver eels). Silver eels are also characterized by a clear contrasting black lateral line and enlarged eyes (Ref. 6125). At the end of their growth period, they become sexually mature, migrate to the sea and cover great distances during their spawning migration (5,000-6,000 km); with extensive daily vertical migrations between 200 m at night and 600 m during day time, possibly for predator avoidance (Ref. 89140). Gametogenesis occurs entirely during spawning migration. Average life span is usually 15-20 years (Ref. 88171). Male eels can grow up to 50 cm TL (Ref. 39903). Occurs at temperatures ranging from 0-30°C (Ref. 172). Its food includes virtually the whole aquatic fauna (freshwater as well as marine) occurring in the eel's area, augmented with animals living out of water, e.g. worms (Ref. 172). Best temperature for making eels sexually mature is 20-25°C (Ref. 35388). Sensitive to weak magnetic fields (Ref. 89141, 89142). Their high fat content and benthic feeding habits in continental waters make them vulnerable to the bioaccumulation of pollutants, such as heavy metals and organic contaminants, that may result in organ damage and impaired migration capability (Ref. 82710) and lowered genetic variability (Ref. 82711). Review of information supports the view that the European eel population as a whole has declined in most areas, the stock is outside safe biological limits and current fisheries not sustainable (Ref. 82712). Obvious decreasing of the stocks for all the continental native distribution area (Ref. 40476). Utilized fresh, dried or salted, smoked and frozen; can be fried, boiled and baked (Ref. 9988).

Life cycle and mating behavior Geslachtsrijpheid | Voortplanting | Kuitschieten | Eieren | Fecundity | Larven

Catadromous species. When sexual maturity is reached they leave the river. Spawning migrations occur mainly during the second half of the year but have been observed year-round, usually commencing during dark nights (Ref. 172). Maturity is obtained during the spawning migration (Ref. 88171). Actual spawning has never been observed but is believed to occur solely in the Sargasso Sea between March and June (Ref. 89144). After spawning (at 600 m depth) adults die. Sigmund Freud described the testicles of eel (Ref. 72449).

Voornaamste referentie Upload your references | Referenties | Coördinator | Medewerkers

Deelder, C.L., 1984. Synopsis of biological data on the eel, Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758). FAO Fish. Synop. (80, Rev. 1):73 p. (Ref. 172)

Status op de Rode Lijst van het IUCN (Ref. 123251)

  Ernstig bedreigd (CR) (A2bd+4bd); Date assessed: 07 November 2018

CITES (Ref. 123416)


Gevaarlijk voor mensen

  Harmless





Gebruik door de mens

Visserij: commercieel; Aquacultuur: commercieel; vis voor de hengelsport: ja
FAO(Aquacultuur: production, soortsprofiel; Visserij: production, soortsprofiel; publication : search) | FIRMS (Stock assessments) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

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Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969): 3 - 14.5, mean 7.9 °C (based on 1203 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00095 (0.00084 - 0.00108), b=3.17 (3.13 - 3.21), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic level (Ref. 69278):  3.6   ±0.3 se; based on diet studies.
Generation time: 8.9 (7.5 - 14.1) years. Estimated as median ln(3)/K based on 28 growth studies.
Weerstandsvermogen (Ref. 120179):  laag, minimale populatieverdubbelingstijd 4,5-14 jaar (K=0.1; tm=6-30; tmax=23).
Prior r = 0.20, 95% CL = 0.13 - 0.30, Based on 2 stock assessments.
Kwetsbaarheid (Ref. 59153):  High vulnerability (64 of 100) .
Prijsklasse (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.