The American eel, Anguilla rostrata, is a catadromous fish found on the eastern coast of North America. It has a snake-like body with a small sharp pointed head. It is brown on top and a tan-yellow color on the bottom. It has sharp pointed teeth but no pelvic fins.
The female American eel spawns in salt water, and it takes 9 to 10 weeks for the eggs to hatch. After hatching, young eels move toward North America and enter freshwater systems to mature. The female can lay up to 4 million buoyant eggs a year, but frequently dies after egg-laying.
The eel likes fresh water, and is found around the Atlantic coast including Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson River. It prefers to hunt at night, and during the day it hides in mud, sand or gravel.
American eels are economically very important to the East Coast and rivers where they travel. They are caught by fishermen and sold, eaten or kept as pets. Eels help the Atlantic coast ecosystem by eating dead fish, invertebrates, carrion, and insects. If hungry enough, it will even eat its own family.
Although many anglers are put off by the snake-like appearance of these catadromous fish, eels are in fact exceptionally good fish. They are usually caught by anglers fishing for something else. The world record weight for the American eel is 9.25 pounds.