Oceans of Opportunity

the american eel

'A New Life in the Sea' by Michael LombardiWhen the dinner table conversation turns to ‘what I do’, the typical response is one of surprise, with a hint of envy, and a honeymoon image of cruising over some coral reef every day to play with the fish.

If it were only that simple.

While I wouldn’t trade this life aquatic for any other, it is far from the Hollywood dream that most associate with being a professional diver. A recent project brought that to light in a very clear way.

Just a week or so ago my day took me to a local tidally influenced river to service infrastructure at a desalination plant. So, mucking about at the bottom of a freezing clod, dark, swift current river I go, with my way guided by the dim glow of my dive light which was no match for the tannin stained river water. Sure enough, with every corner turned – an eel. Ugghh.

Akin to Indiana Jones’ hating snakes, I am not so much a fan of eels. They are hardly bothersome, but they have a unsettling presence, especially knowing that they are at total peace in the cold, dark water that are cause for uneasiness for the rest of us. This is their home, not mine. As the day went on, so did the eels – they seemed to get bigger and more agitated as I worked away, and I did all I could to keep the thought of one finding its way into my boots or gloves far from the front of my mind.

Anyway, the American eel, Anguilla rostrata, is common here on the East coast.  Walk at the park? Day at the beach? Swim over the reef? I think not, but exciting indeed.

American Eel Scientific Classification (Lesueur, 1821)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Superorder: Elopomorpha
Order: Anguilliformes
Family: Anguillidae
Genus: Anguilla
Species: A. rostrata

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