Friday, July 18, 2014

The Excitement of Eels

Community Boating Inc. is our only freshwater site. As you might imagine, we catch some different things than at our sites on the ocean or an estuary. We don’t catch lobsters or the same kinds of fish, but we do catch eels!

The American eels in the Charles River are a source of great fun and endless fascination for the explorers we work with at Community Boating. Just knowing and seeing these strange creatures in the river where they sail is astounding to some of the campers. Some think their slimy, slithering bodies are gross, but they can’t help but be mesmerized by the site of them in our touch tank. After a little encouragement, or a dare from a friend, a cautious hand will reach in to feel the slippery eels, and usually jerk out with a cry of “Eww!”

The biggest eel we've caught slipping out of Luke's hands

One explorer was particularly disgusted on Tuesday when we had eight relatively small eels in out touch tank. He kept walking by and shaking his head while saying they were really gross. Naturally, we wanted to encourage him to get to know an eel or two before judging them so harshly. Eels are amazing creatures that make a long journey to breed in the ocean and then spend the rest of their lives in freshwater. 

Eight eels and four fish

Eventually we convinced our young friend to try to touch one and he was hooked. He had so many questions about eels and other animals in the river. When it was time for us to release the eels back into the river, this camper was more excited than anyone. He grabbed a net, because the eels are too slippery to release with your hands, and chose a nice big one to set free into the river.

He let go of the net!

He carefully walked it over the edge of the dock… and then flung the net to launch the eel into the water! In all the fun, he had let go of the net and the eel and the net both ended up in a sailboat. A helpful instructor from Community Boating fished out the eel with the net and the boy returned the eel to the river more gently. 

Fishing the eel out of the sailboat

Of all the creatures we catch at Community Boating, the eels are everyone’s favorite. It’s really cool to be able to show these young sailors the animals that they share the river with.

See you on the river,

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