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Eels

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Zaphod Beeblebrox
81303.  Sun Jul 23, 2006 1:54 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Mythbusters starts on BBC2 this Thursday at 7.30, so no-one has an excuse not to watch it.


'Fraid I do...away on a course :(

 
gerontius grumpus
81325.  Sun Jul 23, 2006 5:30 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:


One of the problems was that elvers don't look anything like adult eels, so no-one could figure out what the lifecycle was (larval eels were considered to be a separate species until 1893).


Elvers do look exactly like miniature eels except for the fact that they are transparent. It's the leptocephalus larvae that don't look like eels, they metamorphose into elvers as they approach the coastal waters.

 
Flash
81328.  Sun Jul 23, 2006 6:17 pm Reply with quote

Yep, quite right. My mistake.

 
gerontius grumpus
81430.  Mon Jul 24, 2006 10:31 am Reply with quote

Despite being considred a delicacy in some areas, elvers taste absolutely disgusting.
Slightly surprising as eels are quite good to eat.

 
Jenny
81522.  Mon Jul 24, 2006 6:48 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
By the time they leave the continent their gut dissolves, so they have to rely on stored energy alone.


Truly gutless then?

 
King of Quok
131297.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:37 pm Reply with quote

There's a crazy looking thing called a slender snipe eel (Nemichthys scopolaceus) that bobs around the midwater of tropical seas. It's about four foot long with a very long, slender bill, like that of a bird, but bent outwards, so it can't be completely closed. When the males reach sexual maturity the 'bill' shrinks, all their teeth drop out and their nostrils turn into long tubes, which is believed to help them sniff out lady slender snipe eels who are ready to spawn. Almost as odd as the garden eels (Heteroconger hassi) that sway about on the sea bed with their tails in burrows, looking like they've been planted, and the deap-sea gulper-eel (Saccopharynx lavenbergi) which is basically a giant stomach with a tail and two piggy eyes. It can eat meals almost as large as itself, distending the stomach that got it its Latin name, and almost dislocating its teeth backwards. Greedy thing.

 
samivel
131303.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:53 pm Reply with quote

Can you find us some pictures, please, your majesty?

:)

 
King of Quok
131305.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:55 pm Reply with quote

Thanks for the welcome on the other thread, Samivel!



that's the hungry gulper eel...



and that's the slender snipe eel, puckering up before his mouth drops off so he can go snuffling for lady eels.

 
samivel
131313.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:37 pm Reply with quote

Lovely stuff!

 
Jenny
131376.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:16 pm Reply with quote

Fascinating stuff!

 
King of Quok
131411.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 7:57 pm Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
Lovely stuff!


I'm not sure gulper eels are that lovely to anything other than other gulper eels, and even then it's pretty dark down there, which probably helps in much the same way as the low lights in seedy nightclubs. I would imagine.

Have also just come across two more bits of eel-related trivia. Firstly, they are the only fish (I think...) to have a country (or at least a British Overseas Territory) named after them: the island of Anguilla in the Lesser Antilles, although this apparently has to do with the shape of the island resembling an eel, rather than any eels found nearby. I've also foud a brilliant expression, 'holding the eel of science by the tail', from Erasmus' 'Adagia' (1629) - 'cauda tenens anguillam, in eos apte dicetur, quibus res est cum hominibus lubrica fide, perfidisque, aut qui rem fugitivam atque incertam aliquam habent, quam tueri diu non possint' - which basically equates to a proverbial expression used to describe those who have a slight smattering of knowledge in a given subject that slips from their minds when they try to use it, just as an eel would slip out of your fingers if you held it by the tail. It sounds very much something like Stephen Fry would say!

 
The Luggage
131710.  Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:27 pm Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Conversely, hagfish may not be fish, since they are much more primitive than any other fish group. Even so, they can literally tie themselves into knots, which is more than I can do these days (I'm not as young as I was). They eat their prey from the inside out, by crawling into living or dead fish and then eating their surroundings.

It isn't even clear whether they are vertebrates or not.

Quote:
When hagfish wish to disengage from their current prey, they form a knot with their body and slide it towards the mouth. The knot provides something to press against in order to pull the mouth off. This is a unique trait.

I should jolly well hope so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagfish


I just watched an episode of The Blue Planet in which hagfish featured prominently. Attenborough says that they are invertabrates. Some great footage of them tying themselves in knots while eating a decomposing whale.

 
King of Quok
131727.  Sat Jan 06, 2007 6:22 am Reply with quote

Eels are not to be confused with the bumblebee eelworm (Sphaerularia bombi), a nematode worm and a tiny, but pretty disgusting parasite which only lives on queen bumblebees. The nematode measures only about 0.3mm long and, having mated in wet soil, they enter hibernating queen bees through their mouthparts. They alter the prosuction of hormones within the bee's body so that rather than searching for and establishing a nest site after emerging from hibernation, the queen bee's ovaries don't develop, and she just gorges herself on food. The adult eelworm, having mated before entering the bee, then undergoes a remarkable change whereby its vagina swells to 20,000 times its own size. The vagina becomes independent of the body of the eelworm which shrivels away to nothing. The eggs (around 100,000 of them) are then released through into the gut of the queen bee. The queen bee then returns to the hibernation site, the eggs, having developed into larvae within her are then discharged into the soil in her excreta. I think I prefer eels to eelworms.

 
HasBeany
167683.  Thu Apr 19, 2007 6:08 am Reply with quote

My very favourite thing about eels is the word used for catching them. It's just so adorable and seems to have nothing to do with the action. The word is sniggle.

It means to catch eels by dropping bait in their hiding places. The practice has been around for millennia and eel catching equipment has been discovered in North and South America and throughout Europe. The word sniggle I believe began to be used in the 17th century and probably comes from a combo of snig + eel, with snig meaning snag.

Well, I think it's quite interesting!
;)

 
swot
167766.  Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:36 am Reply with quote

Aww that's sweet. Might be a good question too 'How often do you sniggle?'

 

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