Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism officials were surprised by the discovery of an eel which spawns thousands of miles away in the Atlantic ocean.

Kansas native Tim Smith caught the 30-inch American eel in Kansas River near the Bowersock Dam back in September. He allegedly caught the rare creature using a rod, reel, and a worm for bait. According to Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism officials the American eel was not uncommon in Kansas a century ago, but dams and water projects across the country have blocked their migration. It’s possible there are many there are more american eels in Kansas waters, but the state of the local population is unknown at this time.

Groups have pushed for a threatened species listing for the American eel due to it’s declining habitat. However, after a review by the USFWS the populations of the the American eel were found to be stable in the United States. American eels are typically found along the Atlantic coast, but can sometimes find their way into certain river systems, especially near the Gulf of Mexico.

“This species spawns in the Sargaso Sea of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Fisheries section chief, Doug Nygren. “So, this eel made a long journey from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi, took a turn at St. Louis to enter the Missouri River, and another turn to go up the Kansas River to the Bowersock Dam.”

Image from Clinton & Charles Robertson on Flickr

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