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The migration behaviour of European silver eels (Anguilla anguilla) released in open ocean conditions

K. Wysujack A E , H. Westerberg B , K. Aarestrup C , J. Trautner A , T. Kurwie D , F. Nagel A and R. Hanel A

A Thünen Institute of Fisheries Ecology, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany.
B Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Institute of Freshwater Research, SE-178 93 Drottningholm, Sweden.
C Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Sciences, Vejlsøvej 39, 8600 Silkeborg, Denmark.
D Mahurangi Technical Institute, 11 Glenmore Drive Warkworth, New Zealand.
E Corresponding author. Email: klaus.wysujack@ti.bund.de

Marine and Freshwater Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF14023
Submitted: 24 January 2014  Accepted: 5 May 2014   Published online: 5 November 2014


 
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Abstract

Despite some recent progress, there are still large gaps of knowledge about migration routes and behaviour of European eels, Anguilla anguilla, during their long-distance oceanic migration. To achieve a better understanding of the migration behaviour, 28 large female silver eels were equipped with pop-up satellite transmitters and released at three different locations in the north-eastern Atlantic Ocean and in the Sargasso Sea. The study covers tracking periods between 7 and 92 days. The distance between release point and estimated pop-up position ranged from 40 to 1000 km, the mean minimum migration speeds from 1.5 to 17.0 km day–1. The eels consistently conducted distinct diel vertical movements (DVM) with daily amplitudes of more than 300 m and maximum diving depths of more than 1000 m. Eels released in the Sargasso Sea used greater depths and a broader temperature range than individuals released in the Atlantic Ocean closer to the European continent. At least two eels were clearly preyed upon. The transmitters ascended in a considerable range of directions from the release points. Hence, the results of the study did not allow clear conclusions about the detailed location of the spawning site and on the routes of the eels to the spawning grounds.

Additional keywords: diel vertical movements, pop-up satellite tags, spawning migration.


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