The pike eel is a common species of eel that can be found throughout the Indo-Pacific. Said animal can reach much bigger sizes than what most people would expect, which can make them something of a surprise when said individuals learn about them for the first time. Still, the pike eel is a popular food item in Japan as well as a number of other countries, as shown by the fact that the Japanese actually have a specific name for the pike eel, which would be suzuhamo. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the pike eel:
1. Has No Pelvic Fins
The hind-limbs of tetrapods are believed to have evolved from the pelvic fins of fish. However, it interesting to note that no eel has pelvic fins, which is one of their more noticeable characteristics when compared with other species of fish. For that matter, a lot of eels even lack pectoral fins, though the pike eel is not one of these species.
2. Travels Via Wave-Like Motion
Eels can’t travel in the same manner as other species of fish. After all, the fins that can be found on its back have been fused into a single long fin, which has an enormous effect on its possible range of motions. As a result, eels travel by moving their entire lengths in what is best described as a wave-like motion.
3. Can Travel Backwards
Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that eels are capable of traveling backwards, which is something that can prove useful in a wide range of circumstances beneath the surface. All eels have to do is move their bodies in a reverse of the wave-like motion that moves them forward.
4. Eels Start Out As Leptocephali
Eels have a larval stage, which is called the leptocephalus. For those who are curious, this translates to something along the lines of “slime head,” which is quite descriptive in nature. Regardless, this explains how a pike eel is capable of birthing 4 million eggs on an annual basis while its population remains in check. After all, leptocephali are predated upon by plenty of species out there.
5. Juvenile Eels Are Called Elvers
There are two stages between leptocephali and mature eels. The first stage would be glass eels, which are called thus because of their translucent appearance. Meanwhile, the second stage would be elvers, which is when the animals start looking a lot like their mature selves.
6. Eaten in Some Countries
The pike eel is eaten in a number of countries that happen to include Japan, which is perhaps unsurprising when Japan is responsible for consuming something along the lines of 70 percent of the entire world’s catch. With that said, neither the pike eel nor other eels are ever eaten raw, which is because eel blood is poisonous for both humans and other mammalian species.
7. Nocturnal Predators
Like a lot of eels, pike eels are nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are most active during night-time. Likewise, pike eels are like a lot of eels in that they are predatory in nature, with crustaceans as well as benthic fish being their particular favorites.
8. Can Make Unpleasant Surprises For Fishermen
Pike eels can make for a rather unpleasant surprise for the fishermen who catch them. This is because pike eels are perfectly willing to fight when they come up, which can be a serious problem when a full-grown specimen can grow up to 2 meters in length. For that matter, while pike eels don’t have a habit of biting humans, their jaws are more than strong enough to take chunks out of someone if they are particularly unlucky.
9. Found in a Wide Range of Places
The habitat of the pike eel is best-described as being Indo-Pacific in nature. This is because while pike eels are most common on the coasts of Australia as well as a number of Southeast Asian countries, they have been found much further afield. In fact, pike eels have been found on the western coast of Africa, which is very far from their usual habitats.
10. Has Been Mistaken for Sea Monsters
As stated, the pike eel can reach a huge size. Due to this, it should come as no surprise to learn that specimens have been mistaken for sea monsters from time to time. Something that is surprisingly common because when a marine animal dies, that exposes a skeleton that may or may not fit people’s preconceptions for what it should look like.