Journal Article

Silver eel migration behaviour in the Baltic

Håkan Westerberg, Ingvar Lagenfelt and Henrik Svedäng

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 64, issue 7, pages 1457-1462
Published in print October 2007 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Silver eel migration behaviour in the Baltic

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Westerberg, H., Lagenfelt, I., and Svedäng, H. 2007. Silver eel migration behaviour in the Baltic. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 64: 1457–1462

Female silver eels (Anguilla anguilla L.) were tagged with data storage tags and released in the Baltic Sea at the same time at a single site on the east coast of Sweden. Data on temperature, light, and depth were obtained from six eels, continuous records for 71 d at sea. The swimming behaviour was similar for all fish, almost stereotyped: swimming activity was between dusk and dawn, starting at a light level corresponding to civic twilight and ending in the morning at generally the same light level. During daylight, the eels rested on the seabed at depths of 2–36 m. Swimming depth was typically close to the surface: up to 95% of swimming time was spent within 0.5 m of the surface. Short dives at irregular intervals (some 1–2 h−1) were made down to the thermocline depth, or occasionally, to the seabed. The duration of such dives were typically 5–10 min. Although only a few days at liberty, the eels had migrated a considerable distance between recapture and release sites, indicating a mean rate of travel of ∼16 km d−1. The recapture positions suggested unidirectional movements towards the southwestern Baltic Sea, i.e. close to the straits leading to the ocean, supporting a belief that the recorded movements were related to eel spawning migratory behaviour.

Keywords: diurnal behaviour; eel; migration; swimming depth

Journal Article.  3062 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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