Saturday, August 20, 2011

Japanese Eel

Anguilla japonica
Japanese Eels, sometimes referred to as Unagi, are creatures that live in both fresh and salt water. They can grow to lengths of around 5ft (1.5m), and have quite a remarkable life story! 

As adults, they live in the freshwater rivers of East Asia. But when the times comes to spawn, the eels travel thousands of miles to a spawning ground near the Mariana Islands. They nearly starve in order to make the trip! After the spawning takes place, the eggs are carried off by currents into the open ocean, where the Japanese Eels hatch and grow through their larval phase. As they get larger and larger the ocean current brings them closer to the continent, where they swim upriver just as their parents did and begin the process anew. 

Unfortunately, Japanese Eel populations have been hit hard in recent years. This is because of their high demand within the food industry and because of changes in the ocean environment. These Eels are placed on the Greenpeace Seafood Red List and are listed as “to avoid” on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Overfishing, destructive fishing techniques, and damaging capture levels for the captive industry make Japanese Eels (and their culinary name, Unagi) a meal to avoid. 

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : East Asia, Pacific Ocean
Size : Length up to 5ft (1.5m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Actinopterygii -- Order : Anguilliformes
Family : Anguillidae -- Genus : Anguilla -- Species : A. japonica

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