Team to study eels' disappearance

January 1, 2008

An environmental scientist at Queen's University in Canada will lead a study of whether chemical pollution is killing American eels in Lake Ontario.

Biology Professor Peter Hodson and his international team will examine the mystery of the vanishing Lake Ontario population of American eels, a slimy, snake-like fish considered a dining delicacy, Science Daily reported. The eel has been declared a "species of concern" under Canada's Species at Risk Act.

"A prime suspect in the case of the missing fish is the accumulation of toxic chemicals by the parent eels as they feed, grow and mature in polluted freshwater lakes and streams," Hodson said. "Our task will be to determine whether female eels transfer sufficient chemicals to their offspring to cause their death before reaching Lake Ontario."

The team hopes to learn whether chemicals played a role in the eel's decline, and if some lakes and rivers are better suited for restocking than others, Hodson said. In addition, the team will examine which chemicals are the "bad actors" and whether eels are potentially hazardous to human consumers.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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