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Eel Discovered In Sargasso Sea For The First Time, Solving Century-Old Mystery

Update Date: Oct 29, 2015 12:04 PM EDT
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One adult eel has been seen in the Sargasso Sea, solving a 100-year-old mystery about its "migration and reproduction", according to hngn.

At first, researchers equipped 28 eels with satellite trackers, and saw that one of them reached the Sargasso Sea after travelling for 15,000 miles, said Laval University . Hence, a long-lived debate about the location of the only American eel reproduction site has been solved.

"Eel larvae have been observed in the Sargasso Sea since 1904, suggesting that the species reproduced in this area, but no adult eels had ever been observed in this part of the Atlantic Ocean," said Professor Dodson of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Université Laval.

Scientists developed "sophisticated satellite transmitters" that enabled the researchers to check out the migratory paths of the eels accurately. While the transmitters were attached to the 22 eels who were captured in Nova Scotia, while 16 were captured from the St. Lawrence Estuary, the information showed that all the eels followed the same migratory patterns.

While approaching the coastline, they used the salinity levels and temperatures to find the high seas. One eel that came upto the Sargasso Sea just turned due south after it reached the edge of the continental shelf and went towards the breeding ground.

"This points to the existence of a navigation mechanism probably based on magnetic field detection," Dodson said.

More study is needed to come to results related to the eels' migratory route, say scientists.

"Our data nonetheless shows that the eels don't follow the coastline the whole way, they can cover the route in just weeks, and they do go to the Sargasso Sea. We knew that millions of American eels migrated to reproduce, but no one had yet observed adults in the open ocean or the Sargasso Sea. For a scientist this was a fascinating mystery," Dodson concluded.

The findings were published in a recent edition of the journal Nature Communications.

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