Ocean-born fish seen swimming in Kansas River for first time in a decade: 'Fascinating species'

Ocean-born fish seen swimming in Kansas River for first time in a decade: 'Fascinating species'

A group of wildlife biologists recently made a rare discovery after finding a fish thousands of miles away from where it was spawned.

The Aquatic Invasive Species Crew from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) were at the Kansas River in search of an invasive species when they stumbled upon the unexpected – the American eel.

The KDWP team found the fish while conducting sampling operations near Kaw Point, Fox 4 KC reported.

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"Every American Eel that is found in Kansas began its journey in the Sargasso Sea and will have traveled approximately 3,500 miles," KDWP officials recently shared on their Wildlife Diversity Facebook page.

Liam Odell holding an eel found in KS river
An American eel was recently pulled from the Kansas River for the first time since 2015.

"It is a catadromous species, meaning it migrates during late summer and autumn from freshwater and estuaries to the Sargasso Sea, where spawning occurs during late winter and early spring," Fox 4 reported.

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American eels are not often seen in waters across Kansas because of the number of dams throughout the state which interrupt the natural streamflow and impede the fish's ability to move swiftly from one river to the next, according to the station.

The last time the American eel was spotted in the state was in 2015 when an angler caught one fishing near Lawrence — this was the first confirmed sighting by the KDWP in a decade.

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The latest American eel find by the Aquatic Invasive Species Crew marks another decade since the fish was last seen in the state.

While finding one of these creatures in Kansas is rare, they are not considered to be endangered.

Liam Odell with eel in KS river
The American eel has to travel approximately 3,500 miles from the Sargasso Sea into the Atlantic Ocean to reach streams and rivers across Kansas.

The KDWP keeps fishing records of American eels that are caught in Kansas, despite the low likelihood of reeling one in.

The current record dates back to June 23, 1987, after an angler, Ralph B. Westerman, landed a 4.44 pound American eel in the Kansas River.

The fish measured 35-and-a-quarter inches in length and was caught using a rod and reel with a green worm, according to the KDWP record details.

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"It is a fascinating species, and I'm glad its getting some attention," Mark Van Scoyoc, a KDWP biodiversity survey coordinator and ecologist, told Fox News Digital.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife still keeps fishing records for the fish in spite of its rare sightings in the state.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife still keeps fishing records for the fish in spite of its rare sightings in the state.

American eels will follow the natural flow of rivers and streams from the Atlantic Ocean to North America and will live upwards of 40 years before returning to the Sargossa Sea to reproduce, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.

And while other freshwater eels can be found around the world, including the European eel, the short-finned eel and more, the American eel is the only freshwater eel that can be found in the U.S., the government agency added.


Original article source: Ocean-born fish seen swimming in Kansas River for first time in a decade: 'Fascinating species'