Advancing tagging technology to discover the European eel spawning area (TAG-EEL) (111216)

Project Details


European eel (Anguilla anguilla) have significant ecological, economic and societal importance, but became “critically endangered” as the natural population declined to a historical minimum. They live in freshwater habitats and migrate to the ocean to spawn, but the spawning area still remains an enigma.

TAG-EEL will take advantage of innovations in tagging technology to solve this long-standing mystery. Pop-up satellite archival tags (PSATs) will be externally attached on eels, which will be acoustically connected to miniaturized transmitters (pingers), inserted into eels, to be spawned together with eggs. Loosing connection to the pinger will trigger the kinetic release of the PSAT, which will float to the surface to transmit data via satellite connection and thus, designate the exact spawning location. Laboratory experiments, using eels matured via assisted reproductive protocols, enabling spawning eels in captivity, will refine tagging methodology. Thereafter, silver eels collected from nature (obtained from legal
fisheries), will be tagged with optimized techniques and technology, to identify the migration routes and spawning area.

TAG-EEL results will nurture the foundation of a novel methodology, leading to potential economic benefits for the tagging industry and improved applications for future studies on eel and other species of ecological, societal and economic importance. Specifically for eel, results will solve one of the longest standing enigmas, but also provide unpreceded knowledge regarding environmental conditions along the migration route and at the spawning area, supporting sustainable aquaculture development and conservation management of this species, especially considering on-going climate change.

This project is funded by Villum Experiment. 

Research area
Fish Biology
Freshwater Fisheries and Ecology
Effective start/end date01/01/202331/12/2024


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