Eels are very long, narrow freshwater fish which can grow over a metre in length. Eels look smooth and lack the obvious scales and gills of other fish. A group of bizarre fish called lampreys could be mistaken for an eel, but have large sucker-like mouths and no pectoral fins. Eels range in colour above, from silver to olive-green, and have yellow bellies. Young eels (known as ‘elvers’) are almost completely transparent.
Eels can be found in rivers and ditches but leave the freshwater to breed at sea, in an area of the west Atlantic called the Sargasso Sea. Elvers return to freshwater rivers to develop. Eels are predators and scavengers, feeding on dead animals, fish eggs, invertebrates and other fish.
Length: up to 1m
Average Lifespan: 15-70 years
Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Found in rivers and estuaries throughout the country.
When to see
January – December
- Eels are able to survive out of water for quite a long time and may crawl through wet grass to reach water.
- It has been suggested that the Loch Ness monster may be a giant eel, as eels are known to live in Loch Ness.