Species Spotlight: American Eels

For a fish that may look unremarkable, American eels are some of the Chesapeake Bay’s most interesting marine residents! 

Published February 08, 2017

At the beginning of every year, thousands of American eel eggs hatch in the Sargasso Sea. Soon after, many "glass eel" juveniles journey to the Chesapeake Bay watershed—an expanse that reaches over 1,400 miles.


American eels are the only freshwater eel found in North America, and they’re catadromous—meaning they live in freshwater environments, but migrate to the ocean to spawn.

In the fall months, millions of mature American eels from various estuarine habitats along the Atlantic coast travel back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. This species has an average life span of five years, with max. lifespans reaching 15 to 20 years.

These snake-like fish range in size from 2 to 5 feet in length. Females are notably larger than their male counterparts.

Listen to this episode of A Blue View to learn more about these fascinating animals!

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