|Eels and people in the United Kingdom|
In: Humanity and the Sea. Springer: Dordrecht. ISSN 2213-607X, more
Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; ANE, United Kingdom [Marine Regions]; Marine; Brackish water; Fresh water
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The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) is arguably the most widespread species of fish in that continent, being found in all countries with a coastline. In the United Kingdom, which has the second longest coastline in Europe, eels are found in almost all rivers and lakes; their ability to leave the water and move across damp ground even allows them to colonize lakes and reservoirs that are not connected to a flowing waterway. Eels are an important part of the freshwater ecosystem, but their abundance has declined drastically across Europe in recent years, as has that of other species of eel worldwide (see other chapters in this book), raising concerns about the state and the health of the stock. Recent research has shown too that the European eel, although commonly described as a freshwater species, also lives in estuaries and the sea. Some of the eels found in those waters have undoubtedly migrated to the sea in preparation for their spawning migration, but there is a proportion of the population in marine and brackish waters that never actually enters freshwater.