Where in the world?
Mud-bottomed streams, rivers and lakes along the Atlantic coast of the Americas.
The American Eel is the only freshwater eel found in North America. This species has a long, tubular, snake-like body. Its unique dorsal fin begins well behind the pectoral fins and runs along the back, around the tail and along the underside of the body.
In the north Atlantic Ocean near Greenland, the eels spawn and produce millions of eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae flow with the Gulf Stream as far south as Venezuela. The journey to their freshwater habitats in estuaries and coastal rivers can take years.
The larvae and juveniles, commonly called ‘elvers’ or ‘glass eels’ are transparent and gradually gain greyish-black coloration as they age. As adults, millions of eels return to the north Atlantic Ocean to spawn.
Did you know?
American Eels are catadromous, meaning that they spend the majority of their life in freshwater, then migrate to the sea to spawn. Some species of eel are anadromous, which is the opposite. These animals spend most of their life in the ocean, then transition to freshwater rivers to spawn.