DEC’s American Eel Research Project – Larger and Earlier Than Usual

Have you ever been fishing off the docks at your marina and caught this slippery slimy surprise?

That slimy surprise is the American Eel. Since 2008 the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has conducted research on the migrating juvenile American eel, also called “glass eels” due to their translucent appearance when young.

Two-inch long “Glass Eels”, juvenile American Eels, born in the Sargasso Sea North of Puerto Rico, travel up the Atlantic Coast every spring and arrive in estuaries, like the Hudson River. Eels will live in freshwater streams and lakes for up to 20 years before returning to the sea.

Volunteers and students check a fyke net, a ten-foot cone-shaped net specifically designed to catch the small Glass Eels, and then count and release the eels back into the water.  They also record environmental data such as temperature and tides.

The DEC is reporting that “2012 is likely going to be a record-breaking year for the project. Not only are there more sites and volunteers than ever before, but the eels arrived a month earlier and in far greater numbers than they have since the project started in 2008. For example, in 2011 at Black Creek in Ulster County, eels did not show significant numbers until early May and about 1,000 were caught throughout the eight-week season. However, on March 23 of this year, Scenic Hudson staff and volunteers counted more than 2,700 baby eels from a single night’s migration.”


For more information on the DEC’s American Eel Research Project or how you can volunteer;