Although autumn is traditionally a quieter time in nature following the hectic breeding during spring and summer, for the long-finned eel (or Anguilla reinhardtii) it is time for one of life’s biggest journeys – a cross-country trip followed by a trans-Pacific swim.
These native fish are predominately carnivorous, feeding on insects, small fish and even young birds. They are not aggressive, and contrary to most perceptions, they have very short, platelike teeth which are of little threat to humans.
Eels play a very important role in the pond ecosystem. They help control introduced European carp numbers by eating young fish before they reach breeding age, and assist in keeping bird populations at a sustainable level.
A little known fact about eels is the incredible journey they undertake to breed. During autumn, when there is increased rainfall along Australia’s east coast, mature eels migrate to the coast – and when they reach the sea they swim to their spawning grounds – in New Caledonia!
In Centennial Park, adult eels make their way from the ponds down to Botany Bay, sometimes using the stormwater drains that link the ponds, but at times actually leaving the water to slide and wriggle overland to the next water body. Here they too are compelled by instinct and nature to journey to the warm waters of the Pacific to reproduce their species.