Oceanic migration behaviour of tropical Pacific eels from Vanuatu

R Schabetsberger, F Økland, K Aarestrup, D Kalfatak, U Sichrowsky, M Tambets, G Dall’Olmo, R Kaiser, Philip Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

236 Downloads (Pure)


Information on oceanic migrations and spawning areas of tropical Pacific freshwater eels (genus Anguilla) is very limited. Lake Letas and its single outflowing river, Mbe Solomul on Gaua Island, Vanuatu, were surveyed for large migrating individuals. Twenty-four Anguilla marmorata (87 to 142 cm), 39 A. megastoma (50 to 131 cm), and 3 A. obscura (119 to 126 cm) were caught. Seven individuals were tagged with pop-up satellite transmitters and released offshore. One A. marmorata migrated 843 km towards the South Equatorial Current. The tag surfaced only 330 km from the point where the smallest leptocephalus has been captured so far. Tags on A. megastoma and A. obscura popped up within the archipelago. All 3 species exhibited pronounced diel vertical migrations. Eels descended from around 200 m nighttime depth, to 320 (A. obscura), 650 (A. marmorata), and 750 m (A. megastoma) during the day. A clear impact of the lunar cycle on the upper limit of migration depths was found in A. marmorata (full moon: 230 m, new moon: 170 m). These behaviours may be explained as a trade-off between predator avoidance and the necessity to maintain a sufficiently high metabolism for migration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Pages (from-to)177-190
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Oceanic migration behaviour of tropical Pacific eels from Vanuatu'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this