For 13 years we lived in New Brunswick, Canada just off of the St. John River that flows into the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean. Every April the water in our bay would rise several feet as the snows melted. At that time we could count on fishermen setting up several eel traps in the bay. The traps would remain there for a month. I wondered why they wanted eels in the first place but found that this amazing fish is a delicacy in Japan, China, and now in the western world. In fact, some countries have overfished eels and reduced their population by 99%! Yum, yum!
American Eels: The Most Diverse Habitat of Any Fish
Eels are indeed amazing creatures! Some scientists agree that the American eel has the most diverse habitat of any fish in the world. American eels are the only catadromous fish in North America. This term means they spawn in salt water and mature in fresh water, the opposite of salmon that are anadromous.
How Are Eels Born?
Exactly how they spawn is still not known. It seems that eels lay their pinhead-sized eggs under seaweed three miles deep in the Sargasso Sea, part of the Atlantic Ocean. The eggs float and are caught by the currents, traveling 1000 to 3000 miles either toward the US or Europe. As they do, they hatch into a transparent, ribbonlike creature with no eyes or mouths. These juveniles gradually lose their transparency and develop eyes and a mouth. (They still haven’t eaten). When they reach land, their bodies adapt to fresh water and they swim up rivers and start to eat anything in sight, dead or alive.
“With their relatively weak jaws and many small teeth, eels have developed an unusual feeding process with food that cannot be consumed whole or readily broken into pieces by jerking or pulling. Holding on with their mouths, adult eels spin their bodies to break apart food and have been recorded at six to fourteen spins per second. In comparison, Olympic ice skaters can spin five times per second.”
How Do Eels Survive on Land?
“American eels can absorb oxygen through their skin as well as their gills, making it possible for them to travel overland, particularly in wet grass or mud, which may help them move around barriers in streams. Eels also can cover their entire bodies with a mucous layer, making them nearly impossible to capture by hand — ‘slippery as an eel’ is more than just a figure of speech.” (source below)
For the first 8 years of their lives, they are sexless. Then they develop both male and female organs. Now, apparently, they never eat again but concentrate on returning to the Sargasso Sea and salt water again. When they arrive, one or the other set of sex organs shrivels up and they become male or female long enough to reproduce and then die.
How Can We Know for Certain How Eels Were Made?
To explain the still mysterious life cycle of the eel by evolution is complex and speculative. To explain it as another example of the remarkable work of our Creator is satisfying for the Bible says “All things were made by Him.” (John 1:3)