Eels in the School
Some of St Lucia's pupils help Mr Colin Morris, environment warden for the National Trust at Attingham Park, release glass eels into the River Severn. AfterWe looked after some young eels at the school this summer
We are one of 4 local schools that have been helping the local eel population in the River Severn and its tributaries. Under the guidance of Colin Morris the National Trust environment warden at Attingham Park, St Lucia's school had been looking after baby eels in a tank in the school reception area until they were able to be released back into the river.
The baby eels, known as glass eels as they are almost transparent at this stage of their life, were caught at the mouth of the River Severn in the Bristol Channel earlier in the year so that they could be helped to get higher up the river. Eel numbers in recent years have plummeted and they are now an endangered species.
Helping them get to the relative safety of the upper Severn and its tributary rivers gives them the best possible start in this important stage of their lifecycle where they need the freshwater feeding grounds to achieve adulthood. Once in freshwater they gain colouring and lose their transparency. They are then known as elvers.
It may be up to 20 years before the adults migrate downstream again, across the Atlantic Ocean to the Sargasso Sea where they spawn. It is then these young transparent eels are born that make the journey back again to our shores using the Gulf Stream current, and taking up to 3 years.
The quality of the river water is the best it has been for decades, but there are many man-made obstacles such as weirs to overcome on their usual journey upstream to these waters. So now they need human help to achieve their goal and regain the successful recolonisation of our local rivers.
The effort seems to be worthwhile. Eel numbers have improved dramatically over the last 3 years.