Are eels snakes or fish?

Eels are fish with long, snake-like bodies. They have fins and breathe with gills underwater. Eels are different from snakes that use lungs to breathe air. There are over 800 eel species. Most live in the ocean, but some travel between salt and fresh water to breed. Eels eat other animals. They have sharp teeth and strong jaws to catch prey. Electric eels and spiny eels look like eels but are different fish. True eels share 5 traits: elongated bodies, fused back, tail and belly fins, no pelvic fins, smooth skin, and pointed heads. Eels range from 4 inches to 11 feet long depending on species. Ocean eels are often gray or black. Others have colorful patterns. While eels resemble snakes, they are actually fish.

Are eels harmless?

Eels are fish. Some can be dangerous. But most eels pose no danger to humans. A few types, like electric eels, can harm people. But they are uncommon. Eels live a long time. They grow slowly.

Vinegar eels are roundworms. They are harmless and small. Growing to 50 microns wide and 2 mm long. They eat microorganisms in vinegar. Bacteria can live in vinegar.

Some eels like stonefish have venom. Their venom can kill humans fast. But eels typically avoid people. They might bite if threatened. Their bites rarely harm people though.

Eels force water over their gills to breathe. Their eyes and nostrils look strange. Electric eels can stun and kill humans rarely. But multiple shocks put people at risk of drowning.

Some eels migrate between fresh and salt water to breed. Most live in ocean shallows or ponds and burrow into sediment. Some can survive on moist land. But they do not live on land fully. Eels are common in freshwater ponds.

Vinegar eels are safe to eat. The eels in vinegar are nematodes named Turbatrix aceti. They do not harm humans.

Eel bites should be washed out. Most bites do little harm. But see a doctor. Remove eel blood before eating them. Eels can eat a variety of organisms.

Is it OK to eat eel?

Eel is edible. Eels are fish, not snakes. All eel species are edible, but only certain parts are safe to eat. Eels are delicious and expensive. Cooking eliminates risk of poisoning from blood. Eels are treasured for taste and cost.

The occasional eel meal is safe. But limit intake for pregnant women and children due to mercury.

Eel benefits: calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, manganese, zinc, iron. No sugar, low sodium, high phosphorus. Promotes healthy bones and skin.

Eels are consumed many ways globally. Popular dishes: Japan – grilled eel with sweet soy sauce. Europe – smoked or fried eel with potatoes. US – eel sushi or rice topping.

Eel contains omega-3s. Good source of protein. Benefits heart, bones, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes risk, arthritis. Omega-3 EPA promotes healthy skin.

Eel meat absorbs flavor well. Chefs marinate it with sauces and spices. Texture is similar to squid or frog. Some liken taste to chicken.

Eel meat destroys red blood cells. Toxins related to skin glands. Heat degrades toxins.

Eel is chewy, tender, firm. Freshwater eel less tough than saltwater. Eel takes on much flavor from marinades. If you like squid, likely enjoy eel.

Eat eel in moderation if concerned about cholesterol or weight loss due to higher fat content.

Where do eels live?

Eels live in all the world’s oceans. Some eels live in coastal habitats. Others, like the Pitch-black Gulper eel, live in deep waters up to 7km below the surface. Some marine eels prefer the warmer, shallower waters of tropical and temperate coral reefs. A few eels live in the frigid waters around the Earth’s poles.

The American eel is found along the Atlantic coast including Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson River. It is also in the river systems of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to Danish researcher Johannes Schmidt, we know that all European and American eels originate in the Sargasso Sea.

Eels are catadromous. They live in freshwater then return to the ocean to reproduce. Freshwater eels belong to the Anguilla genus. The European eel is found from the Atlantic coast across the Mediterranean. Eels can live in saltwater, freshwater and brackish water.

Eels travel between fresh and saltwater to breed. The European eel migrates over 4,800 km from European rivers to the Sargasso Sea to mate. Eels are born at sea then migrate into freshwater. At maturity, they return to the sea to spawn once, then die. Studies show adult eels traveling over 4,800 km to the Sargasso Sea to lay eggs.

Most eels are nocturnal so rarely seen. Some live together in holes near shallow waters or coral reefs. American eels stay hidden in muddy waters during the day. Adult eels migrate huge distances to spawn and die. Their young drift on currents back to Europe.

The heaviest eel is the European conger, reaching 3 m long and 110 kg. Some eels are longer, like the slender giant moray at 4 m, but weigh less. Eels transform to reproduce, changing color and their eyes and fins grow. Their digestive system shuts down for the long journey to spawn where the cycle starts again.

Some relatives resemble eels, like pipefish, but are not true eels. Pipefish are armored, eel-like fish living in shallow estuaries with freshwater eels. But they are related to seahorses and seadragons, not eels.

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