The early life of eel in the Sargasso Sea—Influence of oceanography and climate (SARGASSO-EEL) (39107)

Project Details


The recruitment of the European eel has been in dramatic decline during the last 30 years, and is at a severe low of only 3-5 % of earlier magnitude. This change and its influence on the eel fishery have led to an intensified research in the oceanic phase of the European eel.

In order to contribute to further understanding of the life cycle of eel the Danish eel expedition set out in 2014 for the eel spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea. Here a consortium of Danish scientists and international collaborators focused on the linkages between oceanography, biological production, eel spawning and the growth and drift of eel larvae.

During the expedition, a wide range of organisms was collected: From the smallest plankton of less than a millimeter to very large fish. A number of research groups are now working on samples and data from the expedition and assembling information on key processes in the early life of eels. Preliminary findings indicate that biological and physical changes have taken place in the spawning areas that may affect the eel larvae’s chances of survival and their journey to Europe.

National Institute of Aquatic Resources, DTU Aqua (coordinator)
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Aarhus University, Denmark
Pierre and Marie Curie University, France
Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany
Université de la Méditerranée, France
University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
University of Rhode Island, USA
Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, UK
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Denmark

The project was funded by the Carlsberg Foundation and Danish Centre of Marine Research (cruise).

Research area: Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics
Research area: Oceanography
Research area: Fish Biology
Effective start/end date01/08/201301/08/2016

Collaborative partners

  • Technical University of Denmark (lead)
  • Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (Project partner)
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks (Project partner)
  • Aarhus University (Project partner)
  • University of Copenhagen (Project partner)
  • Université de la Méditerranée Aix-Marseille II (Project partner)
  • Pierre and Marie Curie University - University of Paris VI (Project partner)
  • Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (Project partner)
  • University of Rhode Island (Project partner)
  • International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Project partner)


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