Every day is an eel day for the Beastly Business team. This year to commemorate World Eel day we’re revisiting our encounters with eels throughout the project, including a recent visit to Ely where the eel has its own dedicated festival!
Visiting Ely eel festival
On the 29th of April Professor Rosaleen Duffy and Dr Alison Hutchinson visited Ely, the Isle of Eels, for their annual Eel Festival. While fishing and eating eels has fallen out of tradition, the Ely eel festival celebrates its namesake with an eel parade through the city’s streets, eel throwing competitions (the cuddly-toy kind), as well as crafts, food, music, and dance performances. If you weren’t lucky enough to visit, take a look at our gallery below.
More Beastly encounters with eels
Throughout the project we have encountered the eel at both ends of their life’s journey, from glass eels on the River Severn, to adult eels in Lough Neagh. We’ve seen the eel celebrated and consumed and have described our encounters in more detail on our website. Professor Rosaleen Duffy has talked about human-eel relationships and meeting an eel face to face, Dr Alison Hutchinson has written about her visit to the Frampton ‘El-ver Eating Competition‘, and described the debates on the international management for European eels at CITES, and Dr Laura Gutiérrez has also curated a digital art exhibition – ‘The European Eel: A Marvellous Creature in Perilous Waters’ with artist Sergio González Rosas. The gallery below shows some of the projects eel highlights.
The Beastly Business project team is focussing on the intersections between legal and illegal wildlife trades, and the European eel is one of our three focus species (in addition to European songbirds and European brown bears). While the gallery above shows eels being the centre of traditions and festivities and as a longstanding food resource, the species is considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This World Eel Day is a reminder that it’s not just large charismatic species that need support, but also those species right on our doorstep that share our landscapes and cultural histories. If our relationship with eels is to continue, the numerous and advancing threats towards them need to be understood and addressed. With the Beastly Business project drawing to a close, please keep an eye on our website for our project findings, as well as our parallel projects on European songbirds and European brown bears.
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