For some people, the arrival of Spring is when they can see flocks of Robins alighting on lawns and fields. For others, it’s when they can capture swarms of Glass Eels swimming up streams and rivers. A favorite spot to do the latter is the mouth of Patten Stream, shown below as it looked Wednesday (March 27).
These “Elvers” are the valuable babies of American Eels (Aguilla rostrate). The youngsters are called Glass Eels due to their being transparent, except for their spinal cords and eyes:
They’re harvested here during their March 22-June 10 Maine fishing season, usually by Fyke (“fick”) nets, which are fine-mesh funnel traps that end in a cylindrical netting bag.
Most of the trapped Elvers are air-shipped alive in special containers to Asia, where they’re raised to nontransparent adulthood and then sold as delicacies.
The many Elvers that are not caught swim up the streams where their parents were born and stay there for 8 to 25 years. Then, they swim down and out into the ocean to the Sargasso Sea, where they’ll spawn and die. Their eggs will become drifting larva that transform into the babies that return to their family streams in Spring. (Surry, Maine)