Check out our latest magazine... Read Online

Critically endangered eel found in Wightlink’s Lymington oyster nursery

​​​​​​​Wightlink’s oyster nurseries are already proving a haven for rare marine wildlife.

Experts from the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) found a critically endangered European eel (Anguilla anguilla) at Wightlink’s Lymington ferry port while inspecting the site.

Nurseries containing hundreds of oysters have been placed in the Lymington River as part of BLUE’s initiative to re-introduce the shellfish to the Solent and eventually re-establish self-sustaining populations. These mature ‘broodstock’ oysters will release millions of larvae into the water.

“This is great news,” says Wightlink’s Chief Executive Keith Greenfield. “These oysters are already improving water quality by removing pollutants, just one of them can filter up to 200 litres of water a day. We are delighted to hear this endangered eel has already been spotted and hope our nursery will continue to be a refuge for rare species.”

European eels begin life as eggs at the bottom of the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic, then spend a year or two migrating with the ocean current 4,000 miles to Europe, where they seek out freshwater habitats. When mature, the eels return to their birthplace to spawn. Historically, they were caught in the River Thames and enjoyed in eel pies and as jellied eels but their numbers have declined in recent years. This could be due to over fishing, coastal development or pesticides.

Dr Luke Helmer from BLUE says: “This was an exciting discovery and adds to our knowledge of the eel population in our estuaries. We have also found them in the River Itchen and Chichester Harbour, which could mean that these areas are important migratory routes or that the eels reside here for longer periods. We need to know more about this intriguing species and are keen to carry out research into the eel’s complex lifecycle.”

More from Animals

  • Top Tips: Keep Your Pets Safe this Bonfire Night

    Bonfire Night is just around the corner. A night of fireworks and celebrations, it's fun for us, but not always for our pets.

  • Ten Ways to Help Hedgehogs

    To celebrate its 10th birthday, nationwide campaign, Hedgehog Street, is asking members of the public to do 10 things to help hedgehogs throughout 2021. The campaign launched by wildlife charities People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) aims to encourage people to make their gardens more hedgehog friendly, in order to help stop the ongoing decline of Britain’s favourite mammal.

  • Hedgehogs on roads: new review assesses problems and solutions

    A new review outlining the impact of road mortality on native European hedgehogs has been published in the online scientific journal Animals.

  • Wildlife charity launches Living with Mammals survey this autumn

    Wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is, for the first time, running its Living with Mammals survey during autumn, from Monday 31st August until Sunday 29th November.

  • The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

    The UK’s biggest citizen science project has been recording the winners and losers in the garden bird world for over four decades with the help of half a million people, and now the RSPB is counting on Island residents to join in too.

  • Natural Living: A Flock of Long-Tailed Tits

    A flock of wheeling long-tailed tits capture this author's imagination as she takes a stroll in the countryside

  • Natural Living: The Sparrowhawk on the Isle of Wight

    Sparrowhawks are now fairly common throughout the country and more of us can enjoy the breathtaking sight of these spectacular, small birds of prey.

Get Social