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Oceanic spawning ecology of freshwater eels in the western North Pacific

By Katsumi Tsukamoto, Seinen Chow, Tsuguo Otake, Hiroaki Kurogi, Noritaka Mochioka, Michael J. Miller, Jun Aoyama, Shingo Kimura, Shun Watanabe, Tatsuki Yoshinaga, Akira Shinoda, Mari Kuroki, Machiko Oya, Tomowo Watanabe, Kazuhiro Hata, Shigeho Ijiri, Yukinori Kazeto, Kazuharu Nomura and Hideki Tanaka


The natural reproductive ecology of freshwater eels remained a mystery even after some of their offshore spawning areas were discovered approximately 100 years ago. In this study, we investigate the spawning ecology of freshwater eels for the first time using collections of eggs, larvae and spawning-condition adults of two species in their shared spawning area in the Pacific. Ovaries of female Japanese eel and giant mottled eel adults were polycyclic, suggesting that freshwater eels can spawn more than once during a spawning season. The first collection of Japanese eel eggs near the West Mariana Ridge where adults and newly hatched larvae were also caught shows that spawning occurs during new moon periods throughout the spawning season. The depths where adults and newly hatched larvae were captured indicate that spawning occurs in shallower layers of 150–200 m and not at great depths. This type of spawning may reduce predation and facilitate reproductive success

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