Conger Eel washed up on Achmelvich beach

January 24th 2021

Conger Eel washed up on Achmelvich beach

Yesterday (23/01/2021) Jorine Van Delft messaged me to say there was a large eel washed up on Achmelvich beach. There had been some rough weather out at sea recently. After seeing a few photographs, I was able to confirm that it was a Conger Eel Conger conger. It is one of the most fascinating fish to wash up on our beaches but it doesn’t happen too often. The fish was blue grey above with a paler belly. It was just over one metre in length, which we could tell meant it was a juvenile and it will not have spawned. You could see the dorsal fin which runs almost the entire length of the body starting just behind the tip of the pectoral fin.

Conger Eels are found all around the west Coast 0f Scotland

The west coast of the British Isles is the best place in the world to see Conger Eels. We know that they can be found in very deep water and prefer living in crevices, holes and often around wrecks. Congers are most active at night and therefore are virtually blind. For this reason they catch all their fish prey by using their formidable sense of smell. Conger eels spend all their lives at sea. They must not be confused with the European Common Eel Anguilla anguilla which spends many years in freshwater. Although we had a good examination of the fish it is impossible to say how this Conger Eel died; whether a result of fishing or natural causes.

Where do Conger eels breed?

Congers Eels mature at 10-15 years and will go to the mid-Atlantic to spawn. After this they die. Each female, apparently, will lay 3-8 million eggs. Conger Eels regularly grow to two and a half metres before they spawn. I believe the record is 6 metres. The females are generally smaller than the males. Congers have sharp teeth and there are lots of stories of scuba divers being dragged several metres by raging Congers.

Other unusual fish that have washed up on the beaches in Assynt

Assynt has had its fair share of interesting fish being washed dead up on the shore over the last twenty years. Some interesting examples include a Cuckoo Ray at Achmelvich in June 2012, a Trigger Fish at Clachtoll in January 2002 and even a Albecore Tuna at Culkein Stoer in October 2011. There have been several Flapper Skates washed up over the years not to mention three species of turtles and numerous whales and dolphins.

Andy Summers

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