Monitoring the American Eel Migration (Anguilla Rostrata)

  • Location
    Jersey City, New Jersey
  • Status
  • Age Level
    8 to 10 Years
    11 to 13 Years
    14 to 18 Years

The Problem

The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) is an amazing fish, migrating great distances during its life cycle. These fish are catadromous, meaning they are born in salt water and live most of their adult lives in fresh water. Eels are born in the Sargasso Sea between Bermuda and Puerto Rico, then swim and drift on ocean currents to the East and Gulf Coasts of North America. On the East Coast, they are found in almost every river from Florida to Maine. Scientists have noted steep declines in eel numbers in the last few decades. Overfishing, parasites, climate change, and dams or other barriers to migration may all affect eel survival. By studying eels, students not only get to know an important species, but they also explore the interconnectedness of oceans, coasts, rivers, and watersheds.

Our Plan

The eel monitoring project is a collection of students, scientists, and volunteers who inspect young American eels using eel mops, a piece of equipment that simulates an ideal juvenile eel habitat. They use specialized humane nets and temporary habitats in various places along the Hudson River to collect data. While monitoring the health of the river, they identified the importance of this invaluable species from its history, its current state, to how they can preserve and protect it. American eels are a key component in understanding the health of the Hudson River estuary ecosystem. With eel populations on the decline worldwide, the student’s data helps organizations like the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) make crucial management decisions.

Themes Addressed

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    Biodiversity Loss
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    Endangered Species
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    Ocean Pollution & Acidification
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    Water Pollution & Conservation

The Benefit

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About Roots & Shoots

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