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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Diving activity of migrating silver eel with and without Anguillicola crassus infection

Simon, J.; Westerberg, H.; Righton, D.; Sjoberg, N. B.; Dorow, M.


Infection with the swim bladder nematode Anguillicola crassus has been hypothesised to threaten the spawning migration success of the endangered European eel (Anguilla anguilla). To examine this assumption, we compared the swimming behaviour of one Anguillicola crassus infested eel in the North Sea and three parasite-free eels in the Baltic using data recovered from data storage tags attached to migrating silver eels. In both areas, eel activity was characterized by frequent diving behaviour throughout the water column during the night, with reduced activity during the day. Despite substantial damage of the swim bladder, the behaviour of the infested eel from the North Sea was within the same range of migrating and diving activity parameters as the three parasite-free eels from the Baltic Sea. All eels had a similar frequency distribution of descent or ascent speeds and a similar average horizontal migration speed. The diving speeds and dive ranges exclude the possibility that the eels were in continuous hydrostatic equilibrium during their migrations and suggests therefore that the role of the swim bladder in vertical migration is likely to be more complex than currently thought. Our results suggest that eels infested by Anguillicola crassus are capable of diving in a similar manner to uninfested eels during the first stretch of their spawning migration.

Published in

Journal of Applied Ichthyology
2018, Volume: 34, number: 3, pages: 659-668
Publisher: WILEY