As the eels pass Porlock they pass from the sediment rich, turbid waters of Bridgewater Bay and the Bristol Channel to the clear waters of the Celtic Sea then into the deep Atlantic proper.
When they reach the continental shelf they not only migrate along a line towards the Sargasso Sea, but migrate up and down in the water column, diving and rising many hundreds of metres in the course of a day. Scientists think this behaviour may be linked to navigation and be a predator avoidance strategy by ascending to shallower water at night time only. Most European eels now carry a non-native swim bladder parasite which may affect this carefully evolved behaviour and therefore their successful migration across the ocean.
During this marine migration phase, the eel does not eat at all, relying on burning the fat reserves it has accumulated over the years spent feeding in freshwater. Gradually the digestive system is absorbed and energy is transferred into making reproductive organs and either sperm or eggs.
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