Photo of eels in Victoria's Royal Botanic Gardens from Wikpedia taken byfir0002 flagstaffotos.com.au
I have eaten smoked eel when I was much younger, but I did not like the taste. Pie and mash with eels at a pub in Greenwich, yuk.
However, Melbourne's resident eels in the lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens, short finned eels, have a quite fascinating life cycle. They can breathe through their skin, and so survive in mud pools and they can exude a mucous like substance from the skin, enabling them to travel overland in damp conditions.
Once mature, they are drawn towards flowing water, in this case Melbourne's Yarra River, travelling either the short distance overland in appropriately damp conditions or using connecting drains. Fat and full of rich oil, they cease feeding and their digestive tract shrivels and for the rest of the lives they will not eat. They make their way down river, dodging container ships on the way, into Port Phillip Bay and out through the heads into Bass Strait, and then across the Tasman Sea to pass south of New Zealand's south island.
They then take a northward course at a distance from New Zealand's east coast to New Caledonia where they mate in the place where they were born, lay their eggs and then die. They have travelled around 4000 kilometres.
The eggs hatch into a larva, which then drifts on the currents towards the north east coast of Australia. As they drift they mature into 'glass eels', quite transparent but now in the shape of an eel. Down the east coast of Australia they travel, not yet eating. They smell fresh water and head into the coastal estuaries and find a river, possibly the one where their parents came from. At full moon when there is a flood tide, they make their way into the river. In our case, they will keep going right down the coast to the south of Australia and into Port Phillip Bay where they will find the mouth of the Yarra River and end up like their parents in the lake of the Royal Botanic Gardens. By this time they have matured into elvers and developed a digestive system and so the cycle begins again as they mature and fatten.
Of course any fresh water source along the east coast of Australia will attract them and they are able to climb waterfalls and at times end up in isolated dams.
For such a small brained creature, what a truly amazing fish they are.
Obviously England has eels, as does Europe and I don't know about America. I wonder where they all breed? I've no idea where it is, but do I have a faint recollection of the Sargasso Sea?