February 22, 2006

Solved – the great Japanese freshwater eel mystery

LONDON (Reuters) - East is East and West is West and never
the twain will meet -- at least as far as the world's
freshwater eels are concerned.

It has long been established that the freshwater eels of
the United States and Europe originate in the Sargasso Sea off

But the origin of their eastern cousins, the Japanese
freshwater eels, has remained a mystery -- until now.

Writing in the science journal Nature, researchers from
Tokyo University's Ocean Research Institute say they have
solved the puzzle.

"We have proposed that the Japanese eel spawns near
seamounts west of the Mariana Islands close to the time of the
new moon," they wrote. "We are now able to corroborate this
location and timing."

The islands are in the western Pacific, about
three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines, south
of Japan. They form a commonwealth in political union with the
United States.