Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Giant Eels in Thomaston?

Well, back on Tuesday (April 4), someone from Colorado found the Strange Maine page by typing in the following query on Google:
giant eels thomaston maine

Interesting, no? It could mean one of a variety of things. Either:
1. Someone has heard rumors of giant eels in Thomaston (if you have, I'd love to hear about it), or
2. Someone wants to buy giant eels to go fishing in Thomaston with them as bait,
3. Or other strange reason.

Wild theories welcome.

According to the Comprehensive Plan of the town of Thomaston, "the rivers and streams in town are very important for such species as alewives, striped bass, and eels." Said eels being the common American Eel or close relatives (I'm guessing), not necessarily giant eels, I'm sure. According to the Spring 2004 issue of the Maine Department of Marine Resources' "Recreational Saltwater Fishing Newsletter,"
American Eel - a person may fish for or take for personal use up to 50 per day from the coastal waters of the state by spear gun, harpoon, trap, or hook and
line and may possess and transport the eels that person has taken. It is unlawful to fish for, take, possess or transport more than 50 eels per person per day.
While many folks find eels quite ishy, and would no doubt welcome any industry that would take them out of the running for things-one-might-find-around-one's-ankles-when-wading, eels are not without friends. Please take a gander at this nifty site that really brings home the plight of the American Eel, threatened in Maine and elsewhere by turbines and other industrial encroachement of waterways:

The Eel Liberation effort by the so-called Eel Huggers (eee! slippery!) stepped up its activities recently in January as hearings about the eels' plight appeared on the schedule of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, according to the Penobscot Bay Blog. There is also a fantastic photo gallery which allows you to follow baby eels in their attempts at migration over dams and more.

According to the petition filed under the Endangered Species Act, we seem to overlook the history contained in eels. They live long lives, when not interrupted:
American eel are among the longest-living animals in North America and one of longest-living fishes of North America. Female American eel in northern latitudes reach ages of 20-50 years old before their sole spawning migration to the Sargasso Sea. A record exists of an American eel living 88 years in captivity (Gail Wippelhauser, Maine Department of Marine Resources, personal communication to Douglas Watts, 1996).
The Maine fact sheet for them is short and sweet, and gives us a good idea of how big they get normally -- males never seem to get much past two feet, but the ladies grow up to 6 feet in length (just more of them to cuddle, folks)! So how big is "giant," anyways???

1 comment:

Chris said...

Be glad we don't live in Australia, where last year a trout farmer placed a £500 bounty on the head of a giant eel who was eating his fish and terrorizing tourists.

From a news account:

"A tourist reported the eel being up to 4m long.

It is probably a long-finned eel - a variety which can travel far over damp ground and even climb walls."