Eel migrations are a complex display of God-given instinct.

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Eel migration
— an amazing part of creation

Quick-read this article:
Eel migration is intricate and complex. We believe such instinct couldn't evolve, and believe instead that God implanted these instincts in eels when He first created them.

Australian long-finned eel (15K)

Australian long-finned eels migrate downstream when they reach sexual maturity. They do this in an attempt to reach, and eventually breed around, the Coral Sea near New Caledonia. Eels reach sexual maturity at different times, even at 90 years of age.

After spawning (producing eggs), the adult dies. A mother eel may carry millions of eggs inside her.

Riding the current

When the eggs hatch, the see-through larvae are called leptocephali, and they may spend two years at sea riding south on the east Australian ocean current.

Leptocephali means “slender-headed”. They are small and flat, and some are shaped like eucalyptus leaves. The name leptocephalus is singular (one is called a leptocephalus and more than one are referred to as leptocephali).

The leptocephali eventually turn into “glass eels”, meaning they have no colour. They lose their teeth, and stop feeding while they move into areas where the rivers meet the sea — where fresh water meets salt water.

Young eels continue the huge migration

When the glass eels move into fresh water, they grow quickly and gain colour. Now the young eels become known as elvers, and they move into the lower reaches of streams.

Elver migrations generally take place at night. To avoid fast-flowing water, the elvers stay close to the banks.

When the young eels reach obstructions such as waterfalls and dam walls, many cling to the wet surface and wriggle their bodies until they are up and over the obstacle. They take several years to mature in fresh water.

What happens to landlocked eels?

Some eels can't get out to sea in the first place because of obstructions. These landlocked eels can grow very large — up to three metres (10 feet) and may weigh more than 20 kilograms (40 pounds).

How do eels know what to do?

How do eels in freshwater creeks and rivers in Australia know there are ideal breeding grounds thousands of kilometres away across the salty Pacific Ocean in New Caledonia?

And how do the new-born leptocephali, which turn into glass eels and then into elvers, know to head back to Australia and find freshwater streams to live in?

And what drives them to press on even when they reach dam walls and other obstructions?

It's difficult to explain by evolution. That's why we believe that God the Creator implanted these incredibly complex instincts in the eels from the time He created them.

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Thanks to Critters of Calamvale Creek for information and the photo used in this article.

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