Science Questions

Sun, 27th Feb 2005

Part of the show Dinosaurs, Ancient Diets and Fossilised Crocs

Question

Pat asked:

Eels manage to move from one bit of water to another. To do this they must go over land. How do they do it?

Answer

Eels are interesting because they live part of their life in freshwater and part in sea water. They are born in the sea and migrate up into freshwater to grow. When they reach maturity, they then make the long journey back to the sea to spawn. In dry weather puddles can form, which leaves the eels no choice but to move across land. How does an animal that lives in water manage to do this? Eels can survive out of water for many hours, and part of the reason is because they have a very thick skin, which seems to cut down their rate of water loss and stop them from drying out. Fish are also able to use oxygen very sparingly and don't need an enormous amount of oxygen to keep them going. Eels have been found on land and they can navigate, although we don't know how. Their movement is quite like a snake. They like to go at night because it's cooler and they don't lose as much water.

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