UINR has been fortunate again this year to receive support from the Aboriginal Funds for Species At Risk program to expand our nearshore mapping of eel habitat and Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge project. Our original project took place in Potlotek, Waycobah, Wagmatcook, Malagawatch, Membertou and Eskasoni in 2007-2008.
This year we will address knowledge gaps in the life history and ecology for eels residing in the Bras d’Or Lakes through a series of surveys for elvers (juvenile eels less than 10 cm in length) and adult eels.
Elvers grow into adult eels that we fish, so it’s important for us to understand the habitats that are necessary for their survival. Over the next several weeks, UINR will be sampling the nearshore marine habitats outside each Mi’kmaq community to get an idea of what types of habitat elvers are found.
We are also looking for samples of adult eels caught by the Food, Social and Ceremonial eel fishers. If you are willing to spare a couple of eels, we would greatly appreciate it! Your eels will be examined for the presence of the swimbladder parasite that was recently found in eels around Cape Breton, and to take measurements on length, weight and age. This information will be used to determine growth rates for the Bras d’Or Lakes’ eel population.
The swim bladder parasite impairs the eel’s ability to swim and escape predators. It also may affect their ability to make the lengthy migration to spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas.
If you see us sampling in your community, don’t hesitate to see what we are doing or ask questions!