Robert Rosell and Warren Campbell (AFBI Fisheries and Aquatic Ecosystems) had a very successful day on Saturday 1st April entertaining visitors with glass eels and eel stories at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre at Castle Espie. Eels are an abundant but mainly unseen creature in the WWT ponds and AFBI use one of the outflows to sea as a site to count glass eels arriving from their larval ocean migration in spring.
When the eels had been persuaded not to hide in the filter mechanism of the new tank, the glass eels and displays drew an interesting mix of visitors. Questions came mainly from children of primary school age, totally disbelieving that such a small fish could swim that far, but many parents also took an interest, with some challenging questions, particularly about the as yet un-observed ocean spawning of European eel – presumed but not absolutely proven to be somewhere in the wide Sargasso sea. Thankfully, the fact that everything about eels can sound like a bit of an April fool story didn’t get in the way too much.
Never underestimate ones audience among others, we had oceanographic staff from the UK Hydro-graphic office, a chef very well informed on eel recipes, and a professional rock pool shore guide unsure how to split Anguilla from Conger (It’s in the length of the jaw and spacing of the fins). Some had come specially to see the eels following WWT postings prior to the event. The Centre staff were surprised at just how much interest was generated – competing with giant lego models of wetland birds and animals. Thanks are also due to Robert’s son Stewart for help on the stand.