A population of billions


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Something a little different today. I’ve used the example of the passenger pigeon in presentations as a species that had a huge migratory population that people believed could never disappear — but they did, with the last one dying in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Is there a parallel here to eels? I think there could be. In North America, both the passenger pigeon and American eel were the most numerous taxa of their kind (by biomass), the geographic ranges are fairly similar across the U.S. and Canada (with a smaller breeding range on the east coast for the pigeon), both species migrate in large groups, both species declined precipitously after only a few decades of concentrated hunting/fishing and suggestions to conserve the pigeon early on were not taken seriously.

Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

NY Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/science/passenger-pigeons-extinction.html?emc=eta1&mtrref=undefined

Original research paper: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6365/951.full

For those of you on Facebook, join the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/EelTown/permalink/1759535651017265/

Eel art in New Zealand by Gwil

One of the posters on our Eel Town Facebook Group, Sal Hobbsie, showed me the following mural by Gwil, a New Zealand artist:

I reached out to Gwil to ask him for the story behind this mural, and here is what he wrote:

“Hi Nick, Thanks for getting in touch mate. Well the Eel party mural is part of a series of walls where myself and a couple friend have been painting aquatic life around the eastern suburbs of Wellington. It is part of a community initiative that Wellington Electricity lets us paint on a range of their substations and they supply us with materials. All the locations are areas we grew up around which makes painting them an honour for us and hopefully the surrounding communities can enjoy them. If their was a message it would be relevant to any of the walls – To revere and celebrate our aquatic animals

Cheers Nick”

Thank you, Gwil! You can see more of his work at  http://gwilart.tumblr.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/gwilart/.

200,000 Dams and Culverts that No Longer Serve a Purpose

Eels mentioned at the very end. A U.S. FWS Office has $1 million to spend on removing barriers to water flow, which they say should cover about 25 projects. When you look at how many dams and culverts there are that could be removed, it shows how valuable it is to determine which ones can have the biggest impacts on stream flow and migratory fish.