Wednesday, 18 August 2010

ANGUILLIFORM CONFUSION





The above are all videos (including the one posted up on the CFZ Bloggo the other day) which show an elongated aquatic animal similar to either an eel or a sea snake living in a tidal pool in Hawaii. The video posted in the original bloggobit intimated that this was Laticauda colubrina, a seasnake unknown from Hawaii (top right). Initially I thought the animal was a zebra moray eel (Gymnomuraena zebra), which is pictured top left, but further research made things much more interesting, for about five minutes.

First stop, a list of fish species for Hawaii. There are seventeen listed Muraenidae species in Hawaii, from giants to dwarfs. The video shows an animal between 40-100cm in length; easily within the size range of the target species, the zebra moray. However, on this particular list, the zebra was not listed as being present in Hawaii. The implication for cryptozoology was obvious. What was it doing there? Was it a released ex-captive individual? Was it totally unrecorded? Was it a new species to science that just looked similar to a zebra?

These questions were all answered rapidly when it turned out that there was a slight typo thing, and the zebra was listed outside of the other Muraenidae from Hawaii. Mystery solved, the animal in the videos is a zebra moray eel.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

A tale of a giant eel

I was up in Cumbria last weekend, just passing through from Scotland. I spent my first few years in Cumbria and have subsequently always thought of this as my home, not the South-West. Anyway...

A friend took me up to see the ospreys at Bassenthwaite lake (the 2 chicks have recently fledged) and we were rewarded with a lovely sighting of the male eating a fish (likely a perch). I got talking to one of the volunteers about their diets, and she mentioned that the other week a heron (well known for being very greedy at times) decided to take on a giant eel. Naturally, I asked how big this eel would have been. She said it was very thick for an eel, and was almost bent double to the ground when the heron picked it up.

Now, eels usually get to around a meter in length, but can in a number of documented cases grow up to 1.5 meters, and weights over 11 pounds. So, how large do herons get? Well, a height of around a meter is about right, and so this would make this eel anything from 120cm to 180cm. By any accounts, that’s a very big eel, and a potential British record.

Then again, I’m not so sure if the British anglers associations would be happy about giving the fisherman’s name as “A. Heron”...