Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish
“This is a delightful work with the urgency of a good detective story.” —Thomas McGuane
“I loved it! A beautiful adventure story of one of the most wide-spread and least-known but ecologically important fish.” —Bernd Heinrich, author of Summer World
Famous for his deeply informed, compulsively readable books on trout, writer-painter James Prosek (whom the New York Times has called “the Audubon of the fishing world”) takes on nature’s quirkiest and most enigmatic fish: the eel. Fans of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and The Big Oyster or Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters will love Prosek’s probing exploration of the hidden deep-water dwellers. With characteristically captivating prose and lavish illustrations, Prosek demystifies the eel’s unique biology and bizarre mating routines, and illuminates the animal’s varied roles in the folklore, cuisine, and commerce of a variety of cultures.
though not confirmed by our own observations, that there are snakes and lizards there of an enormous size. He said, they sometimes seize and devour men.” Maori would not have known a lizard of the size Cook related, and would never have seen a snake, as there are no native snakes in New Zealand. What he described, “eight feet in length, and big round as a man’s body,” was most likely a longfin eel. Taniwha or not, the longfin eel is an impressive creature. Like other members of New Zealand’s
similar conditions exist—where lagoons or lakes with eels are very close to the sea. Comacchio, Italy, in the delta of the Po River near Venice, is a famous example. Lake Forsyth, or Waiwerea, in the South Island of New Zealand is separated from the sea by a gravel bar, shaped by tides and storms, that varies in depth and thickness. The Maori figured out long ago that if they dig channels in the gravel bar from the lake heading toward the ocean, but not entirely through the bar, then during the
fourth type of fish) are so slimy behind the gills, because they came from the slimy eel and were not washed off with a wave of water. This is the species of parrotfish that the locals call mahu, which is especially slimy, the very blue one. Once the eel had delivered her gift, she left the party and swam up the Nanpil River and over the mountain to Lehdau, in Madolenihmw. She stayed in the village of Sapalap for quite a while, living in a tidal channel called Dau Sokele. Every time a canoe went
eel.” We sat silently for some time again, and the eel resumed its splashing in the creek. “I used to believe I was born from eels,” Mikel said, “but now not as much.” I asked why. “I think it’s the religion,” he said, meaning the introduction of Christianity. “Have you ever heard the eels?” I shook my head. “They make a sneeze, or a whistle—a melody just like a bird. I’ve seen, with my own eyes, eels walking on their tails on land. Not too fast, not too slow, just standing on their tails.
Doug Watts. I was given his home number in Augusta by a friend who’d worked with him on the ESA listing of Atlantic salmon in Maine. He warned that Doug could be somewhat unpredictable and was notorious locally as a fist-pounding activist who sometimes did outrageous things to make his point. “Is this Doug Watts?” I asked when I called. “Yes,” he answered in a low, gravelly voice. “I’m a writer working on—” Click. I called back, thinking we’d had a bad connection, but no one answered. I