The Dutch eel smoking championship was held today in Kortenhoef, The Netherlands. Like previous years, the organization board decided to use farmed eel, which was linked to the decline in wild eel population. Captive breeding, however, has been unsuccessful, and the only way to farm them has been by capturing and raising wild baby eels.
Eels begin life as larvae called Leptocephalus, but despite the efforts of modern science, not much is known about how they reproduce. European eels reproduce in the North Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea, about 3,100 miles from Europe’s shores. The larvae travel to coasts and grow into small transparent fish called “glass eels.” Glass eels grow into golden yellow eels and make their way into rivers, streams and creeks to feed on insects, worms, and smaller water organisms. They can be found any- where on the coasts between Norway and Egypt. They can take 10 to 15 years to mature, and eventually become “silver eels” about three feet long, with a dark-gray coloring on their back and silver bellies. The cause for the decline in eel population is not known, but excessive fishing, the presence of PCB pollutants and a viral infection are suspected by the scientific community.