There are new "locals" on the campus of Wageningen UR: 30 male and 30 female eels. The fish come from the IMARES location in Yerseke and now reside in saltwater baths in Wageningen. The eels are intended for scientific research on their reproduction.
The DUPAN Foundation in cooperation with IMARES and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs launched a multi-year investigation on the propagation of European eel. Recently, scientists in Europe have succeeded to produce larvae. However, they fail to keep them alive: the larvae do not eat and possibly bred larvae are too weak.
The research in Wageningen focuses on making reproduction of eel predictable and controllable. The eels have traveled thousands of kilometers long in a swim gutter in Yerseke, simulating a journey to the spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea. By doing this, they become adolescents. In the following two months the animals will be prepared in saltwater baths in under optimal conditions to produce larvae. Scientists are trying to improve the protocol so that larvae will eventually be strong enough, eat food and grow into healthy young eels.
The first larvae are expected to be born in March 2016.