An eel is any ray-finned fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes (/æŋˌɡwɪlɪˈfɔːrmiːz/), which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera, and about 800 species. Eels undergo considerable development from the early larval stage to the eventual adult stage, and most are predators. The term “eel” originally referred to the European eel, and the name of the order means “European eel-shaped.”
The term “eel” is also used for some other eel-shaped fish, such as electric eels (genus Electrophorus), spiny eels (family Mastacembelidae), and deep-sea spiny eels (family Notacanthidae). These other clades, however, evolved their eel-like shapes independently from the true eels.
Temporal range: Cretaceous–recent
L. S. Berg, 1943
Eels are elongated fish, ranging in length from 5 cm (2.0 in) in the one-jawed eel (Monognathus ahlstromi) to 4 m (13 ft) in the slender giant moray. Adults range in weight from 30 g (1.1 oz) to well over 25 kg (55 lb). They possess no pelvic fins, and many species also lack pectoral fins. The dorsal and anal fins are fused with the caudal fin, forming a single ribbon running along much of the length of the animal. Eels swim by generating body waves which travel the length of their bodies. They can swim backwards by reversing the direction of the wave.
Most eels live in the shallow waters of the ocean and burrow into sand, mud, or amongst rocks. A majority of eel species are nocturnal, thus are rarely seen. Sometimes, they are seen living together in holes, or "eel pits". Some species of eels also live in deeper water on the continental shelves and over the slopes deep as 4,000 m (13,000 ft). Only members of the Anguilla regularly inhabit fresh water, but they, too, return to the sea to breed.
The heaviest true eel is the European conger. The maximum size of this species has been reported as reaching a length of 3 m (10 ft) and a weight of 110 kg (240 lb). Other eels are longer, but do not weigh as much, such as the slender giant moray which reaches 4 m (13 ft).
Eels begin life as flat and transparent larvae, called leptocephali. Eel larvae drift in the surface waters of the sea, feeding on marine snow, small particles that float in the water. Eel larvae then metamorphose into glass eels and then become elvers before finally seeking out their juvenile and adult habitats. Many eels remain in the sea throughout their lives, but freshwater elvers of eels in the family Anguillidae travel upstream and are forced to climb up obstructions, such as weirs, dam walls, and natural waterfalls.
This classification follows FishBase in dividing the eels into 20 families. Additional families included in other classifications (notably ITIS and Systema Naturae 2000) are noted below the family with which they are synonymized in the Fish Base system.
Taxonomy based on Neslon, Grande and Wilson 2016.
Phylogeny based on Johnson et al. 2012.
|Main commercial species|
|Common name||Scientific name||Maximum
|American eel||Anguilla rostrata (Lesueur, 1817)||152 cm||50 cm||7.33 kg||43 years||3.7||||||Endangered|
|European eel||Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758)||150 cm||35 cm||6.6 kg||88 years||3.5||||||||Critically endangered|
|Japanese eel||Anguilla japonica Temminck & Schlegel, 1846||150 cm||40 cm||1.89 kg||3.6||||||||Endangered|
|Short-finned eel||Anguilla australis Richardson, 1841||130 cm||45 cm||7.48 kg||32 years||4.1||||||Not assessed|
Freshwater eels (unagi) and marine eels (conger eel, anago) are commonly used in Japanese cuisine; foods such as unadon and unajū are popular, but expensive. Eels are also very popular in Chinese cuisine, and are prepared in many different ways. Hong Kong eel prices have often reached 1000 HKD (128.86 US Dollars) per kg, and once exceeded 5000 HKD per kg. The European eel and other freshwater eels are eaten in Europe, the United States, and other places. A traditional east London food is jellied eels, although the demand has significantly declined since World War II. The Spanish cuisine delicacy angulas consists of elver (young eels) sautéed in olive oil with garlic; elvers usually reach prices of up to 1000 euro per kg. New Zealand longfin eel is a traditional Māori food in New Zealand. In Italian cuisine, eels from the Valli di Comacchio, a swampy zone along the Adriatic coast, are especially prized, along with freshwater eels of Bolsena Lake and pond eels from Cabras, Sardinia. In northern Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden, smoked eel is considered a delicacy.
Elvers, often fried, used to be a cheap dish in the United Kingdom; but, during the 1990s, their numbers collapsed across Europe. They are now not just a delicacy, but the UK's most expensive species.
Eel blood is toxic to humans and other mammals, but both cooking and the digestive process destroy the toxic protein. The toxin derived from eel blood serum was used by Charles Robert Richet in his Nobel Prize-winning research which discovered anaphylaxis (by injecting it into dogs and observing the effect). The poison used by Richet was actually obtained from sea anemones.
Eelskin leather is highly prized. It is very smooth and exceptionally strong. However, it does not come from eels. It comes from the Pacific hagfish, a jawless fish which is also known as the slime eel.
The large lake of Almere, which existed in the early Medieval Netherlands, got its names from the eels which lived in its water (the Dutch word for eel is aal or ael, so: "ael mere" = "eel lake"). The name is preserved in the new city of Almere in Flevoland, given in 1984 in memory of this body of water on whose site the town is located.
Eel fishing in Nazi-time Danzig plays an important role in Günter Grass' novel The Tin Drum. The cruelty of humans to eels is used as a metaphor for Nazi atrocities, and the sight of eels being killed by a fisherman triggers the madness of the protagonist's mother.
Sinister implications of eels fishing are also referenced in Jo Nesbø's The Cockroaches, the second book of the Harry Hole detective series. The book's background includes a Norwegian village where eels in the nearby sea are rumored to feed on the corpses of drowned humans – making the eating of these eels verge on cannibalism.
The English name "eel" descends from Old English ǣl, Common Germanic *ēlaz. Also from the common Germanic are West Frisian iel, Dutch aal, German Aal, and Icelandic áll. Katz (1998) identifies a number of Indo-European cognates, among them the second part of the Latin word for eels, anguilla, attested in its simplex form illa (in a glossary only), and the Greek word for "eel", egkhelys (the second part of which is attested in Hesychius as elyes). The first compound member, anguis ("snake"), is cognate to other Indo-European words for "snake" (compare Old Irish escung "eel", Old High German unc "snake", Lithuanian angìs, Greek ophis, okhis, Vedic Sanskrit áhi, Avestan aži, Armenian auj, iž, Old Church Slavonic *ǫžь, all from Proto-Indo-European *oguhis, ēguhis).The word also appears in the Old English word for "hedgehog," which is igil (meaning "snake eater"), and perhaps in the egi- of Old High German egidehsa "wall lizard".
According to this theory, the name Bellerophon (Βελλεροφόντης, attested in a variant Ἐλλεροφόντης in Eustathius of Thessalonica), is also related, translating to "the slayer of the serpent" (ahihán). On this theory, the ελλερο- is an adjective form of an older word, ελλυ, meaning "snake", which is directly comparable to Hittite ellu-essar- "snake pit". This myth likely came to Greece via Anatolia. In the Hittite version of the myth, the dragon is called Illuyanka: the illuy- part is cognate to the word illa, and the -anka part is cognate to angu, a word for "snake". Since the words for "snake" (and similarly shaped animals) are often subject to taboo in many Indo-European (and non-Indo-European) languages, no unambiguous Proto-Indo-European form of the word for eel can be reconstructed. It may have been *ēl(l)-u-, *ēl(l)-o-, or something similar.
Conger ( KONG-gər) is a genus of marine congrid eels. It includes some of the largest types of eels, ranging up to 3 m (10 ft) in length, in the case of the European conger. Large congers have often been observed by divers during the day in parts of the Mediterranean Sea, and both European and American congers are sometimes caught by fishermen along the European and North American coasts.
The life histories of most conger eels are poorly known. Based on collections of their small leptocephalus larvae, the American conger eel has been found to spawn in the southwestern Sargasso Sea, close to the spawning areas of the Atlantic freshwater eels.
"Conger" or "conger eel" is sometimes included in the common names of species of the family Congridae, including members of this genus.Eel (comics)
The Eel is an alias used by two fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The first character to take up the identity was Leopold Stryke who first appeared in Strange Tales #112 (October 1963) created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, while his successor, Edward Lavell, first appeared in Power Man and Iron Fist #92 (Apr. 1983). Both Eels were at one point a member of the Serpent Squad even though the character they portray was not actually based on a snake. Neither Eel has ever been featured as a regular character in any of Marvel's ongoing or limited series.
The original Eel, Leopold Stryke, wore a suit that could generate an electrical charge like an Electric eel and was coated with a slippery substance. He was often depicted as a henchman, normally teaming up with other criminals such as Plantman, Porcupine, Scarecrow and Unicorn. He later became a founding member of the Serpent Squad along with his brother Jordan, the original Viper. He even worked for Madame Hydra, unaware that she had killed his brother. Stryke was killed by the Gladiator during a heist.
The second Eel, Edward Lavell, started out as a foe of Power Man and Iron Fist, but later became a general henchman like the original Eel working for Justine Hammer's Masters of Evil and the Maggia. At one point Lavall appeared to have been killed, but later appeared as part of the latest incarnation of the Serpent Squad led by Sin, the daughter of the Red Skull. Subsequently, the Eel became part of "Serpent Solutions", the next incarnation of the Serpent Society.Eel Pie Island
Eel Pie Island is a 8.935-acre (3.6 ha) island in the River Thames at Twickenham in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It is on the maintained minimum head of water above the only lock on the Tideway and is accessible by boat or from the left (generally north) bank by footbridge. The island had a club that was a major venue for jazz and blues in the 1960s.Eel Pie Studios
Eel Pie Recording Studios, formerly Oceanic, was a recording studio located in The Boathouse, Twickenham on the banks of the River Thames in Ranelagh Drive, by Twickenham Bridge, West London, and also simultaneously at No.45 Broadwick Street, Soho, London.
The building in Twickenham was originally a 1960s boathouse, its riverside location allowed Pete Townshend to commute there by boat, having lost his driving licence. From 1981 the studios were run as a commercial operation and were the location for a number of notable rock and pop recordings. Artists who recorded at Eel Pie Studios include Pete Townshend, A-ha, Rachel Fuller and Michael Cuthbert. In the 1990s, the studio was occupied by the band Cocteau Twins, who called it September Sound, and The Lightning Seeds.
Pete Townshend sold the studios in 2008 and the building was converted into a private residence.
'Eel Pie' had earlier been used as the name for a series of Pete Townshend's home studios, where he recorded many song demos. His 1972 album, Who Came First, was recorded at home, as were some recordings by the Who circa 1970.Eel River Athapaskan peoples
The Eel River Athapaskans include the Wailaki, Lassik, Nongatl, and Sinkyone (Sinkine) groups of Native Americans that traditionally live in present-day Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt counties on or near the Eel River and Van Duzen River of northwestern California.
These groups speak dialects of the Wailaki language belonging to the Pacific Coast Athabaskan group of the Athapaskan language family which is prominently represented in Alaska, western Canada, and the southwestern U.S. Other related Athapaskan groups neighboring the Eel River Athapaskans included the Hupa-Whilkut-Chilula to the north, the Mattole on the coast to the west, and the Kato to the south.
The Whilkut, Nongatl and Lassik were essentially annihilated during the Bald Hills War in the 1860s.Eel as food
Eels are elongated fish, ranging in length from 5 centimetres (2.0 in) to 4 metres (13 ft). Adults range in weight from 30 grams to over 25 kilograms. They possess no pelvic fins, and many species also lack pectoral fins. The dorsal and anal fins are fused with the caudal or tail fin, forming a single ribbon running along much of the length of the animal.
Most eels live in the shallow waters of the ocean and burrow into sand, mud, or amongst rocks. A majority of eel species are nocturnal and thus are rarely seen. Sometimes, they are seen living together in holes, or "eel pits". Some species of eels live in deeper water on the continental shelves and over the slopes deep as 4,000 metres (13,000 ft). Only members of the Anguillidae family regularly inhabit fresh water, but they too return to the sea to breed.Eel blood is poisonous to humans and other mammals, but both cooking and the digestive process destroy the toxic protein. The toxin derived from eel blood serum was used by Charles Richet in his Nobel winning research which discovered anaphylaxis (by injecting it into dogs and observing the effect).
The Jewish laws of Kashrut forbid the eating of eels. Similarly, according to the King James version of the Old Testament, it is acceptable to eat fin fish, but fish like eels, which were erroneously believed to lack fins or scales, are an abomination and should not be eaten.Japan consumes more than 70 percent of the global eel catch.Eel life history
The eel is a long, thin bony fish of the order Anguilliformes. Because fishermen never caught anything they recognised as young eels, the life cycle of the eel was a mystery for a very long period of scientific history. Although more than 6500 publications mention eels, much of their life history remains an enigma.
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) was historically the one most familiar to Western scientists, beginning with Aristotle, who wrote the earliest known inquiry into the natural history of eels. He speculated that they were born of "earth worms", which he believed were formed of mud, growing from the "guts of wet soil" rather than through sexual reproduction. Many centuries passed before scientists were able to demonstrate that such spontaneous generation does not occur in nature.
Other early scientists believed that the eelpout Zoarces viviparus was the "mother of eels" (the translation of the German name "Aalmutter").Electric eel
The electric eel (Electrophorus electricus) is a South American electric fish, and the only species in its genus. Despite the name, it is not an eel, but rather a knifefish.European eel
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is a species of eel, a snake-like, catadromous fish. They can reach a length of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) in exceptional cases, but are normally around 60–80 cm (2.0–2.6 ft), and rarely reach more than 1 m (3 ft 3 in).
Eels have been important sources of food both as adults (including the famous jellied eels of East London) and as glass eels. Glass-eel fishing using basket traps has been of significant economic value in many river estuaries on the western seaboard of Europe.
While the species' lifespan in the wild has not been determined, captive specimens have lived over 80 years. According to a report in The Local, a specimen lived 155 years in the well of a family home in Brantevik, a fishing village in southern Sweden.Fish trap
A fish trap is a trap used for fishing. Fish traps can have the form of a fishing weir or a lobster trap. Some fishing nets are also called fish traps, for example fyke nets.
A typical contemporary trap consists of a frame of thick steel wire in the shape of a heart, with chicken wire stretched around it. The mesh wraps around the frame and then tapers into the inside of the trap. When a fish swims inside through this opening, it cannot get out, as the chicken wire opening bends back into its original narrowness. Contemporary eel traps come in many shapes and sizes and are constructed of many materials. In earlier times, traps were constructed of wood and fibre.Hagfish
Hagfish, the class Myxini (also known as Hyperotreti), are eel-shaped, slime-producing marine fish (occasionally called slime eels). They are the only known living animals that have a skull but no vertebral column, although hagfish do have rudimentary vertebrae. Along with lampreys, hagfish are jawless; they are the sister group to jawed vertebrates, and living hagfish remain similar to hagfish from around 300 million years ago.The classification of hagfish had been controversial. The issue was whether the hagfish was a degenerate type of vertebrate-fish that through evolution had lost its vertebrae (the original scheme) and was most closely related to lampreys, or whether hagfish represent a stage that precedes the evolution of the vertebral column (the alternative scheme) as is the case with lancelets. Recent DNA evidence has supported the original scheme.The original scheme groups hagfish and lampreys together as cyclostomes (or historically, Agnatha), as the oldest surviving class of vertebrates alongside gnathostomes (the now-ubiquitous jawed vertebrates). The alternative scheme proposed that jawed vertebrates are more closely related to lampreys than to hagfish (i.e., that vertebrates include lampreys but exclude hagfish), and introduces the category craniata to group vertebrates near hagfish.Jellied eels
Jellied eels are a traditional English dish that originated in the 18th century, primarily in the East End of London. The dish consists of chopped eels boiled in a spiced stock that is allowed to cool and set, forming a jelly. It is eaten cold.List of common fish names
This is a list of common fish names. While some common names refer to a single species or family, others have been used for a confusing variety of types; the articles listed here should explain the possibilities if the name is ambiguous.Moray eel
Moray eels, or Muraenidae ( or ), are a family of eels whose members are found worldwide. The approximately 200 species in 15 genera are almost exclusively marine, but several species are regularly seen in brackish water, and a few are found in fresh water.The English name, from the early 17th century, derives from the Portuguese moréia, which itself derives from the Latin mūrēna, in turn from the Greek muraina, a kind of eel.Ophichthidae
Ophichthidae is a family of fish in the order Anguilliformes, commonly known as the snake eels. The term "Ophichthidae" comes from Greek ophis ("serpent") and ichthys ("fish"). Snake eels are also burrowing eels, they are named for their physical appearance, they have long, cylindrical snakelike bodies. This family is found worldwide in tropical to warm temperate waters. They inhabit a wide range of habitats, from coastal shallows and even rivers, to depths of above 800 m (2,600 ft). Most species are bottom dwellers, hiding in mud or sand to capture their prey of crustaceans and small fish, but some are pelagic.These species range from 5 cm (2.0 in) to 2.3 m (7.5 ft) or more in length. Many species lack fins altogether, improving their ability to burrow into the substrate like worms. They are often spotted or striped in colour, mimicking the appearance of venomous sea snakes to deter predators. Often, they are washed ashore by large storms.Plastic Man
Plastic Man (real name Patrick "Eel" O'Brian) is a superhero originally published by Quality Comics and later acquired by DC Comics. Created by cartoonist Jack Cole, Plastic Man was one of the first superheroes to incorporate humor into mainstream action storytelling. This character has been published in several solo series and has interacted with other characters such as Batman and many others in the mainstream DC Universe as a member of the Justice League. He has additionally appeared in several television and video game adaptations, including a short-lived television show of his own named The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show.South Fork Eel River Wilderness
The South Fork Eel River Wilderness is a 12,868-acre (5,207 ha) wilderness area located in Mendocino County, California. The wilderness was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System when the United States Congress passed the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act in 2006 (Public Law 109-362). The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the agency in charge.
The wilderness is broken into two sections. The Red Mountain unit is dominated by Red Mountain and the Cedar Creek (South Fork Eel River) drainage. Elevations range from 1,100 feet (340 m) at the southwest end along Cedar Creek to 4,083 feet (1,244 m), less than three miles away at the top Red Mountain. Terrain is generally steep, consisting of rugged drainages dropping abruptly into Cedar Creek canyon. A small area of fairly gentle slopes is found near the summit. A zone of reddish soil occupies the central part of the area and contrasts sharply with the surrounding landscape.
These unusual soils have resulted in a unique vegetation cover of several species of pine and cypress trees intermixed with a low brush understory. Rare and endangered plant species occupy the landscape covered by these ultrabasic soils. These rare plants have been isolated over space and time on serpentine rock near the summit of Red Mountain. This edaphic sky island holds the northern range extension of Sargent cypress (Cupressus sargentii). This a is also the only location to find Red Mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kelloggii) and Red Mountain stonecrop (Sedum eastwoodiae. Much of the area is designated and Research Natural Area (RNA) / Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).
The red soil on Red Mountain is in the Littlered series. It is an Ultisol, a Haplohumult, with nearly 50% iron oxides. The main iron oxide is goethite (FeOOH), with enough hematite(Fe2O3)to make the soil red.The southern section called Cahto Peak unit consists of several Douglas fir forest watersheds, one of which is so pristine that it has been designated a Biosphere Reserve, a National Natural Landmark, and a Hydrologic Benchmark. Much of the area is designated a RNA / ACEC.The Eel (film)
The Eel (うなぎ, Unagi) is a 1997 film directed by Shohei Imamura and starring Kōji Yakusho, Misa Shimizu, Mitsuko Baisho, and Akira Emoto. The film is loosely based on the novel On Parole by celebrated author Akira Yoshimura, combined with elements from the director's 1966 film The Pornographers. It shared the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival with Taste of Cherry. It also won the 1998 Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film of the Year.Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness
The Yolla Bolly–Middle Eel Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area in the Yolla Bolly Range of the southern Klamath Mountains and the Inner Northern California Coast Ranges, in Northern California.