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Common Name: American Eel

Scientific Name: Anguilla rostrata


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Anguilliformes

Family: Anguillidae

Genus: Anguilla

Species: A. rostrata


The American Eel is an amazing creature. The eel ranges in sizes; the Males grow to 59.84’’ (152 cm) and the females grow to 47.24’’ (120.0 cm). These amazing eels vary in size, but look similar to each other. They are copper colored and have been known to be extremely slimy. Fisherman have had a hard time catching and breeding this animal due to its size and its ability to swim quickly underwater.

The American Eel is commonly found from Greenland to Brazil, the American eel is a creature of the ocean, using ocean currents to move from its native waters, perhaps using cues from the currents or salinity to time its metamorphoses. Having survived at least one ice age, American eels seem to be a flexible species well-equipped to withstand the short- and long-term cycles and fluctuations inherent in ocean dynamics.

Until recently, people who study this animal have thought that it was only a fresh water animal. That proves not true. Mature adults generally live in the freshwater, but a selected few choose to swim in the marine environments. American Eels have been known to slither through swampy areas, and even moist grasslands. This is possible because the Eel can “inhale” oxygen from their gills and skin.

To keep away from predators, this animal has a defensive mechanism that you wouldn’t think. This animal surrounds it’s body with a mucous layer that makes them nearly impossible to be captured, and even harder to be eaten. Humans have been known to eat this Eel, particularly in Europe and Asia, and have been doing so for hundred, even thousands of years. It has been considered a great delicacy in Asian countries, and was once one of the most expensive meats a person could buy. Only people with a lot of money or royalty could purchase this slimy animal.

Eel populations have decreased dramatically, possibly as much as 99 percent, and there has been concern that the American eel populations, particularly those in fresh water, are following that same downward spiral. Since the building of dams and aqueducts, this animal has struggled to survive. They have been known to become trapped in hydropower vessels, and die. Mainly, this animal’s main predator is humans.


The American Eel has been known to eat dead organisms, invertebrates, carrion, and even their own species, when starving. They feed on whatever they can fit in their mouth that is edible. That includes crabs, salmon, trout, and even snakes and frogs if they can find them. This animal does have teeth that are uses to rip and tear its victim. The eel’s teeth once latched on can be very hard to get out of. The American Eel lives in a range of areas. This includes the shores off of Maine, the Saragosa Sea. (South of the Florida Keys) Scientists are stumped about this animals spawning, and it’s mating behavior has remained a mystery.


The Eel has been known to swim in extremely deep water. Scientists believe these animals use the stars and tide to guide their way through the vast sea. I learned a great deal about my animal. As stated earlier, this odd creature has remained a mystery to the people that study it. I learned that this animal can be very vicious when confronted with another animal. They have even been nicknamed the “Cannibal Fish” due to its aggressiveness towards its own species. Like most eels, the American Eel rarely closes it’s mouth when it’s feeding. It’s safe to say, It would be quite intimidating to bump into this creature while scuba diving.

Author: Tyler K
Published: 02/2009

Sources: “Encyclopedia Britannica” – “American Eel” | Page 187, Paragraph 6,7, and 8.

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