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May 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 29, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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To Eels, Your Fins May Look Tasty Enough to Bite

from the May, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Ben,

I read with interest your story last month about the feeding of lionfish to sharks and eels, and the effect this seems to be having on those animals' behavior. So here's another episode for you.

My wife and I were diving on the south shore of Roatn in August 2012. I suspect that the staff at dive shops and resorts there have been culling lionfish for some time. I know our divemaster had been doing so -- I witnessed him simply leaving the speared fish to drift in open water for whoever got there first. On my dives, it was mostly groupers and large jacks that got the goods. I did not witness any sharks or eels feeding on the discarded fish, however, I did see an unusual number of free-swimming eels out during the day. On one dive, my buddy and I were finning parallel to the wall at 30 feet, behind two women who were finning in the same direction. As we watched, a large eel bolted from the wall, at a high rate of speed, swam directly toward the two women and very deliberately bit one of their fins, then turned around and retreated back to the wall. For the remainder of that dive, that eel (or possibly another) followed us all while keeping close to the wall. It's very clear this animal is associating divers with food -- not a good thing!...


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