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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 554:257-262 (2016)  -  DOI:

Heading south or north: novel insights on European silver eel Anguilla anguilla migration in the North Sea

Jeroen Huisman1,2,*, Pieterjan Verhelst3,4,5,6,*,**, Klaas Deneudt5, Peter Goethals6, Tom Moens3, Leopold A. J. Nagelkerke1, Carsten Nolting7, Jan Reubens3,5, Peter Paul Schollema8, Hendrik V. Winter9, Ans Mouton4,6

1Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University and Research Centre, De Elst 1, 6708 WD Wageningen, The Netherlands
2Research group Marine and Coastal ecology and management, Van Hall Larenstein Applied Sciences University, Agora 1, 8934 CJ, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
3Research group Marine Biology, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
4Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Kliniekstraat 25, 1070 Brussels, Belgium
5Flanders Marine Institute, Wandelaarkaai 7, 8400 Ostend, Belgium
6Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Jozef Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
7Country Fisheries Association Westphalia and Lippe, Sprakeler Str. 409, 48159 Münster, Germany
8Water Authority Hunze en Aa’s, Aquapark 5, 9641 PJ Veendam, The Netherlands
9IMARES, Wageningen University and Research, PO Box 68 IJmuiden, 1970 AB, The Netherlands
*‑These authors share first author status and contributed equally to this work**Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The European eel Anguilla anguilla L. is a critically endangered fish species that migrates from coastal and freshwater habitats to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. However, the exact migration routes and destination of European eel are still unknown. We are the first to observe southward migrating silver eels in the North Sea. Eels were tagged with acoustic transmitters in 3 different river catchments in Western Europe and swam to the Dutch-Belgian coastal zone during their spawning migration. Therefore, at least part of the Western European population of eels migrates towards the English Channel, in contrast with the Nordic migration route hypothesis. This different migratory route may affect the energy reserve available for spawning and therefore the contribution of these eels to the population. As such, increasing our knowledge of marine eel migrations contributes to the goal of achieving sustainable eel stock management.

KEY WORDS: European eel · Marine migration · Telemetry · Conservation

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Cite this article as: Huisman J, Verhelst P, Deneudt K, Goethals P and others (2016) Heading south or north: novel insights on European silver eel Anguilla anguilla migration in the North Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 554:257-262.

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