Did you know that there are 800 species of eels? They are an important element of the natural food web as well as a source of food and bait. Eels are born in the ocean but live most of their lives in fresh water, before returning to the ocean to spawn. The American eels are born in the seas around Bermuda, before they start a year-long migration to the Hudson River. They can be found along the Atlantic coast including the Chesapeake Bay up to the Saint Lawrence River region.
Join Kelsey Jean West from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County in a fascinating discussion about eels, including a research project that counts the eels that migrate up to the Hudson River. There is still a lot of mystery around the eel, so the citizen science research project that has been going on for over 13 years helps the Department of Environmental Conservation make regulatory decisions to help protect this endangered species.
The Hannacroix Creek is one of twelve locations along the Hudson River where local volunteers count the glass eels (the one year old American eels in the third of six stages of maturity) as they reach their freshwater homes where they stay through adulthood. They eventually grow to be up to 4 feet long and as heavy as 17 pounds and can live anywhere between 10 to twenty years in fresh water. Then they eventually return to their birthplace in the Atlantic Ocean where they spawn at the end of their lives, and the cycle starts again.
Learn more about eels including how you can engage with this citizen science project on the podcast, Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley .
Hosts: Tim Kennelty and Jean Thomas
Guest: Kelsey Jean West
Photo by: Tim Kennelty
Production Support: Linda Aydlett and Teresa Golden
Resources: American eels - Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research - University of Maine (umaine.edu) ; American Eel (Anguilla rostrata) | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (fws.gov) ; hrlpamericaneels45.pdf (ny.gov)
Last updated March 15, 2023