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|European Conger Eel
The largest eel in the world grows up to 5 feet in length and weighs up to 150 pounds, with specimens up to 9 feet long and weighing 350 pounds known. Its coloring depends on the type of seabed it inhabits, with the upper body ranging from almost black in color to a light grayish brown; the underside is usually silvery in color. Large gill openings extend to the underside, and the front pair of nostrils are tubular in shape. Congers have very strong jaws and extremely sharp teeth, and the upper jaw extends beyond the lower. The pectoral fins are large, while the pelvics are minimal. The dorsal fin runs from just above the pectorals along the back and end at the anal fin.
Distribution and Habitat
This species lives in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, from Norway and Iceland to Senegal, as well as the Mediterranean and Black seas. They are found in shallow waters by the shore, down to a depth of over 1,000 feet. It prefers areas with rough seabed, and typically inhabits shipwrecks and reefs.
Congers are strictly carnivorous and will eat just about anything they can catch, including bait fish, crabs, cuttlefish and squid. Those living in shallow waters tend to be nocturnal feeders, while those living below 60 feet will feed at any time.
Because the conger spawns in the Sargasso Sea (in the west-central Atlantic) at depths of 10,000 to 12,000 feet, little is known about its mating habits. It is believed that congers only breed once in a lifetime, but this has not yet been conclusively proven, nor has the belief that congers die after mating.
Conger lavae bear little resemblance to adults, being transparent and flattened. They spend about two years near the surface before beginning their migration to the North Atlantic, at which time they become more cylindrical. They will not develop adult coloration until they reach a length of 12 inches.
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This page was last updated on July 27, 2017.