"Call of the Wild" as Congers star in their own release!
6th May 2011
This weekend is the last chance to see our three largest conger eels before they are released back to the wild. The three Congers that live in the Open Sea Tank have become restless recently as they come into breeding condition. As Congers apparently only breed once before dying we plan to release the three on Monday 9th May to give them the opportuinity to breed. This rare event will be filmed by the BBC as part of its "Wild Week Live" event which runs from May 21st.
“Call of the Wild” as Congers star in their own release!
Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry is bidding farewell to three of its largest and most fearsome residents on Monday 9th May, when it will be releasing its three mature Conger Eels under the watchful gaze of television.
The Conger Eels, which have lived at Exploris for the last seven years, are about to leave its safe haven and head off into waters unknown to breed. The release will be filmed as part of the BBC's 'Wild Week Live' event.
All three eels, which are most likely female because of their size, were caught in the wild on the west coast of Ireland in 2004. In the aquarium their voracious appetite meant that they rapidly outgrew their original tank and they have spent the last five years living under the boat wreck in the large Open Sea Tank, only emerging at feeding time or to eye up divers when they are in the tank to clean the glass.
Conger Eels, one of our local marine predators, are shown a high level of respect by divers because of the potential dangers of being in their company!
Over the last few weeks, visitors to Exploris have been able to see the Conger eels prowling the Open Sea Tank and showing little interest in food, a sure indication that they have something else on their mind. Conger Eels reach sexual maturity between five to fifteen years and at that point they need to travel to deeper waters to mate and spawn. Helena Challinor, General Manager at the aquarium noted “The breeding habits of Conger Eels are shrouded in mystery, where they go to breed and what happens after is still unclear, it is thought that eels from northern Europe migrate to the deeper waters of the mid Atlantic to breed and that having spawned the adults then die.” What is known is that each eel will produce between three and eight million eggs if they complete their journeys successfully.
On the release process, Tania Singleton, Senior Aquarist at Exploris commented, “Because of their size, this is not an easy operation to carry out. Firstly the eel has to be netted in the water by a diver and then it has to be carefully carried in the net to an outside travelling tank. We hope at this point to be able to weigh one of the eels as we think it may be close to 100lb. At the release site the eel then has to be carried into the water and restrained until we know it is okay. It is not something we can rehearse so we do as much pre planning as we can and hope all goes well on the day.”
For further information contact:
Helena Challinor or Tania Singleton on 028 4272 8062
or email helena.challinor@ards_council.gov.uk or tania firstname.lastname@example.org
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