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A team of researchers at Universidade de Lisboa has found evidence that suggests global warming is playing a role in the sharp decline of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla)—known more commonly as the glass eel. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes subjecting specimens in their lab to global warming conditions and what they found.
Glass eels, so named because of their nearly transparent bodies, are also known for their incredibly long migrations. They hatch in the Atlantic Ocean as larvae and drift along on ocean currents toward Europe and then North Africa. Eventually, they wind up in continental waters, where they grow to adulthood—they then swim back to their birthplace to spawn. They have been declining in numbers for several decades. Several factors have led to the decline, such as overfishing and the blocking of rivers and barriers to migration routes. Recent estimates suggest the population of the glass eel has dropped by over 90 percent since the 1980s. In this new effort, the researchers suggest climate warming could drive the glass eel to extinction.
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