Conference: Sustaining iconic diadromous fishes: The potential and pitfalls of cultivation

Coming up in Norway:

H/T to Eel Town citizen Frode Kroglund for posting this. Here are his comments:

I have copied this from the conference announcement. This could have broader interest

I would like to bring to your attention the above conference, organized by the IMPRESS network. The aim of the conference is to bring together scientists and various stakeholders to discuss the costs and benefits of cultivation for stocking purposes, and how to improve the quality of future cultivation programs. While focusing on three iconic species (European eel, Atlantic salmon and sturgeon), contribution on other freshwater species are welcome. The conference will take place in the city of Arendal on the Southern coast of Norway.

In addition to yourselves could you please forward this conference announcement to other colleagues who you think may be interested in attending.

IMPRESS consortium

Med vennlig hilsen/Best regards

Finn-Arne Weltzien
Professor in Physiology
Head of Section

Link to conference:

The Victorian Elver Wars


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A review of William Hunt’s book The Victorian Elver Wars. Did you know the first restrictions on elver fishing in the UK date back to 1533, during the years of Henry VIII? I just ordered a copy of the book myself, will post more about it when it arrives.

(Tangentially related, some of you might enjoy Callum Roberts’ book “The Unnatural History of the Sea”, which includes the impacts and regulations of fishing going back centuries).

Elver smuggling explodes –6.250,00 Euro/kg in January 2018

Photo (C) F: Möllers / AVN

This was posted on our Facebook group by Florian Stein, who was interviewed for this article. Here’s a rough translation:

“Elver smuggling explodes
6.250,00 Euro / kg – the paid trader in Asian markets in January 2018. More than six times as much as for Ivory – this is reported by the Sustainable Eel Group
What is this for the stock in Europe?
What can associations and associations do to protect the species?
This is the avn expert interview with Florian Stein, scientific. Project Manager at the sustainable eel group (SEG).”

Read more here (in German):

310 kg of eels seized from Madrid airport

Over in Spain, 310 kg of European eel  (Anguilla anguilla) were seized from a flight bound for Hong Kong. This is part of a growing black market for eel, fueled by rising prices and a sharp decline in Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica) this year.

Eels seized in Madrid. Photo (C) Guardia Civil de España.

Full story (Spanish):

Original notice from the Spanish Civil Guard:

Decline in eel production puts a popular treat at risk

Another article on the global decline in eels. This was published a few days ago, I am currently going through a backlog of articles and have many more to post.  This article combines information on America, European and Japanese eel to show how the impact reduced eel numbers is being felt around the world.

Damage caused by Chinese seafood smuggling

The effects of seafood  smuggling in China — and some suggestions on how to fight it. Eels are mentioned early on. H/T Eel Town resident Florian Stein for posting this to the Facebook group.

(In another report from Maine Glass Eels on Facebook, the decline of Anguilla japonica glass eels means they are selling for over $14,000 per pound in some markets.)

World Fish Migration Day 2018 in Suffolk UK

Those of you in the UK are invited to  an educational two day event on the life cycle and migration of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla). For more information please contact Ben Norrington at or visit


The Smog of the Sea film

A short documentary on the Sargasso Sea. Jules Verne once described this area as a lake on the ocean, with almost no wind and currents that move in a circle. So, plastics go in, but they don’t go out. This film does not show any eels directly, but the Sargasso Sea is vital for conservation efforts as it is the only spawning ground of European and American eel.

This is a free download, all the information is available in the screening kit:


#AAOPlasticFree #PlasticFreeHawaii #TheSmogOfTheSea

“Eel and Well” by Lars Gustafsson

Lars Gustafsson (1936-2016) was a Swedish poet, novelist and scholar. His 1988 book, The Stillness of the World before Bach, included the following poem:

Eel and Well

In the province of Skane there was a custom:
into their deep black wells they put
small eels from the sea.
And these eels spend their lives
imprisoned in the wells’ deep blackness.
They keep the water crystal-clear and clean.
When sometimes the well-eel
is brought up in the bucket, white, frighteningly big,
blind, coiling in and out
of the riddles in its body, without knowledge,
everyone hurries to sink it back again.
Often I see myself
not just in the well-eel’s place
but as both eel and well.
Imprisoned in myself, and yet this self
is something else: I’m there.
I wash it with my wriggling,
muddy, white-bellied presence in the dark.

Freshwater eels in media

This came from a series of posts I made to the Facebook group during Christmastime, freshwater eels in movies, television, cartoons and video games. There are many more examples like these, but not every example has a convenient YouTube clip. I will work on posting more, but it will take some time to extract the clips with Adobe Premiere, plus I have to make sure I’m following the law re: “fair use”. If you have more clips to add, or additional information on any of these examples, please post a comment. This is the longest original article I’ve posted here yet, hope you enjoy!

Note: There are thousands of examples of other kinds of eels in media, especially marine eels (moray, conger, wolf, gulper and other eels), electric “eels” (which are actually knifefish), lampreys, etc. Since this site focuses on freshwater eels I am not including those, except for one example at the very end that I couldn’t resist. Also, quality varies from one video to the next, but this is unavoidable unless the copyright holders decide to post a higher quality version.

Eels in Film

Zlati Uhori (1979). Title literally translates to “Golden Eels”. There is a European eel (Anguilla anguilla) at about 42:10. According to IMDB, this was adapted from a novel about life in Czechoslovakia during WWII and made into a TV movie.

From 1984, here’s the “Dinner of Doom” scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  It’s hard to see exactly what kind of eels these are, but since the cuisine is from India, it’s likely they’re supposed to be Indian mottled eels, Anguilla bengalensis bengalensis.

“Excuse me, could we have an eel?”. From the movie Withnail and I, 1987.

Eels mentioned in Rush Hour, 1998. See also this part where Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) finds out he is eating eel: (Would have liked to organize these clips a bit better, but I don’t own the movie and these were the best I could find.)

The “Lake Scene” from Love Actually (2003). Although no eels are actually shown, it does include the dialogue: “There better not be eels in here!”
“Don’t disturb the eels!”

“Why are there so many fish in France?”

From the TV movie Temple Grandin (2010). Eels are mentioned at the end and even included in Temple’s sketches.

Made in China is a Korean film released in 2014. According to the description on IMDB:”It’s David versus Goliath when a man, Chen, uncovers a corporate conspiracy involving eels tainted by mercury. As he sneaks into South Korea to investigate, Chen finds a connection with a woman named Mi.”

Eels in the film A Cure for Wellness (2017). No audio in this clip. Probably not good for people with a fear of drowning. I have not seen this movie and have no idea why this guy was locked in a tank with eels, but according to one reviewer, the eels are the best thing about this movie: I’m told they show up in a few other scenes too, including one involving a bathtub, but thus far there are no clips of this on YouTube.

Eels in television

“Quick, Niles! Start killing eels!”

“The Innkeepers” episode of Frasier, originally airing on May 16th, 1995. This is not the full episode, just a series of clips, possibly for copyright reasons. Several mentions of eels, the chef’s specialty is Anguilla and a table full of restaurant critics want to try it. One of the funniest eel-related clips I’ve ever seen.

Friends. “The One with Unagi” episode, originally airing February 24th, 2000. (No eels are actually shown, but Phoebe is the one character who knows that unagi means freshwater eel). Only the first scene shows the discussion of the word, the rest of the clip is more about Ross’s false sense of situational awareness.

The “Wildboyz” go to New Zealand and discover some longfin eels at about 1:20 in. This episode originally aired on December 7th, 2003. The on-screen text shows the wrong name for New Zealand longfin eel, it should say Anguilla dieffenbachii but instead they put Anguilla reinhardtii, which is actually the scientific name for Australian longfin eel.

The clip purports to show an eel biting down on this man’s finger but there is no “death roll” by the eel, I would guess these fish are regularly fed at that location and only looking for a morsel of food, not to actually attack him.


The Extreme Halloween episode of Chopped on the Food Network. Originally aired October 6th, 2013. More on this episode here: See also the After Hours content here, to see how the judges handled the eel:

Cold River Cash (2014). Photo courtesy IMDB.
Cold River Cash (2014). Photo courtesy IMDB.

The TV show “Cold River Cash” followed three teams of eel fishermen in Maine (Season 1, 2014).

River monsters, season 3 (April 17th, 2011). New Zealand Longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) migration.

Another clip from the same episode.

An episode in season 7 (May 10th, 2015) features Anguilla marmorata.

“In this story, a fishing community lives near a lake and has depended on eels from time immemorial. A fishing corporation has gained a monopoly on the eels in the lake (probably a sound, not a lake). A local group of men are caught poaching eels and go on trial.” (H/T Paul Thompson for this description.)

Eels in Animation

Animated eels in The Water Babies 1978. (They first appear about 8 minutes in, I think their last appearance is at around 11 minutes.) Seems kind of dark for a kid’s movie, although I haven’t seen the entire film. Based on the art style and accents, these appear to be European eel (Anguilla anguilla).

Unagi Inu from Tensai Bakabon
Unagi Inu from Tensai Bakabon

Unagi Inu (literally “eel dog”) from the anime series Tensai Bakabon (1999-2000). Read more about him here:

Dino the eel in
Dino the eel in “Flint the Time Detective”.

From the show “Flint the Time Detective” (shown 2000-2001; based on the Japanese manga-turned-anime Jikū Tantei Genshi-kun (時空探偵ゲンシクン), Dino (the eel) and Mite (the frog) are the henchmen of Petra (right).

The “Dueling Eds” episode of Ed, Edd and Eddy. At 8:40 in, join Rolf with the eels of forgiveness. This was a rather bizarre show for kids, with this episode originally airing on December 14th 2001. Video is only 1/4 screen, presumably because the uploader does not hold the copyright.

Spongebob and Patrick play a game of “Eels and Escalators” (basically Chutes and Ladders). This episode originally aired on March 21st, 2003. In one episode Patrick says this is his favorite game, although in another episode he says it is Parcheesi.

An eel on Spongebob (courtesy
An eel on Spongebob (courtesy

An earlier episode of Spongebob (Your Shoe’s Untied, November 2nd, 2000) featured what appeared to be a yellow-stage Anguillid eel inside the Krusty Krab. Spongebob asks her for help in tying his shoes, but she says she is an eel and doesn’t wear shoes. (Photo only as I could not find a decent quality clip to share).

Eel pie on The Simpsons, from Treehouse of Horror XV, November 7th, 2004. Quality is not great, looks like someone filmed it off their TV. Eel pie references at 1:30 and 5:40 in, turns out this is Chief Wiggum’s favorite food.

Eels on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. If you’ve never seen this show before, it’s the kind of humor geared to appeal to teenage boys and will probably seem stupid/offensive to everyone else. This episode originally aired on December 13th, 2009. The eels show up near the end.

The Eel, The Weasel and the Vulture. This was a short film that premiered in NYC in 2017.

This was made in Germany for Christmas 2017, featuring many jokes on the word “aal” (German for eel). H/T Aquaflo Steinovic for posting this one.

Eels in Video Games

Eel boss from
Eel boss from “Apidya”. Taken from a YouTube video by Ironclaw.

An eel is the end-level boss in stage two of the Commodore Amiga game Apidya, (C) Play Byte (1992). The artwork makes species identification ambiguous but the water lily (genus Nymphaea) confirms this is freshwater. Screenshot from a YouTube video by Ironclaw of

Starting in 1996, Nintendo has featured eels in their Mario games. It’s questionable what kind of eels these are however, because their appearance and behavior suggest a Moray eel and Nintendo has referred to this character as “Maw-ray” in some places. On the other hand, Nintendo has also called it Unagi (Japanese for freshwater eel, Anguilla japonica) so perhaps they have taken some creative license here. There’s a few other eel-like characters in the clip too, so decide for yourself what they represent.

American eel (Anguilla rostrata) are featured in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing series. There are many games in this series, but it appears the eel first appeared in Dōbutsu no Mori (Animal Forest) for the N64 in 2001, (which was re-released as Animal Crossing for the Game Cube the same year) followed by Animal Crossing: Wild World (2005), Animal Crossing: City Folk (2008) and Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012). It may appear in other games too, please post a comment if you know more.

Catching an American eel (Anguilla rostrata) in Rapala Pro Bass Fishing for the XBox 360, released September 28th, 2010 by Activision.

In 2015, Sega used eels to promote the game Alien: Isolation.

Eels in the video game Prey, (C) 2017 Arkane Studios. It takes place on an alien planet, but they are listed as being in the genus Anguilla at one point. (They are also available as sushi or in jellied form.) See a discussion about them on the Steam Community forums here and more gameplay footage here.

The eels seem to be a kind of inside joke at Arkane, who also included characters known as the “Dead Eels Gang” in the 2012 game Dishonored. They also talk about the eels in their Reddit “Ask Me Anything”:

And finally, an honorable mention:

Here’s the Bay Watch “Eel Nino” episode (November 10th, 1997). This does not actually feature a freshwater eel, it looks more like a moray but is described as an electric eel (which, long time eel residents will recall, is not a true eel at all). But isn’t it worth it to see David Hasselhoff save people from a 20ft long, killer eel?

-Nick Walker