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Eric the Eel at Hever Castle

Discussion in 'Hever' started by Hever, Oct 14, 2012. Replies: 0 | Views: 2261

  1. Hever

    Hever New Member


    Following the BBC Radio 2 discussion about eels in the lake at Hever Castle in the ‘run’ up to the Hever Triathlon at the end of September, we feel it is necessary to speak up for the much maligned eel. Many speak eel of him.

    We have found eels in the moat at Hever Castle and indeed there was an eel called Eric who lived under the bridge by the Information Hut and was regularly seen by lots of visitors. He would come up to take bread that was thrown down to the ducks and fish. We are not certain how long Eric lived in the outer moat at Hever Castle (they live typically between 20 and 40 years|), but it was certainly for a number of years and then one day he left. He was a good sized eel, just over 2ft long.

    After years of living in the outer moat with only fish for company, he decided it was time to go on a once in a lifetime holiday to the warm waters of the Sargasso Sea off Florida, in the hope of meeting the female eel he had spent the last four years dreaming about. Eric was not alone in this quest. Indeed all the eels throughout the country have similar dreams of returning to the Sargasso Sea, which incidentally is where they were all born.

    Although it is a very long way to go on holiday, it is a lot warmer and for an eel it is the only time in their life and only place where they get ‘jiggy’ with other eels. After mating Eric will have died and his mate will have died after laying her eggs. The good news is that Eric’s offspring, which are effectively merely plankton or at best transparent larvae, drift on the ocean currents, most likely the Gulf Stream, to make their way back to Europe. Although we don’t know for certain, there is a very good chance that Eric’s sons and daughters have returned to the outer moat at Hever Castle.

    It is not certain why so many people find the thought of eels horrible, as Eric and his fellow European freshwater eels would never attack a human and their mouths are not very big anyway. Apart from the relatively tame ones like Eric, who got used to seeing lots of people and was happy to reap the benefits of smiling at them as they peered down at him from the bridge, they are quite shy and mostly delve around the bottom of a body of water, be it a pond, lake or river, where they do an excellent job of clearing up the rubbish. They are also a very important part of the diet of some of our most treasured species, such as otters and bitterns. We will try and tell you a bit more about the eels as the year goes on.

    Next week we will tell you a story about one of Eric’s relations called Louis – may he rest in peace.

    Hever Castle News

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