The relationship between the moon cycle and the orientation of glass eels (Anguilla anguilla) at sea

Alessandro Cresci, Caroline M. Durif, Claire B. Paris, Cameron R.S. Thompson, Steven Shema, Anne Berit Skiftesvik, Howard I. Browman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Links between the lunar cycle and the life cycle (migration patterns, locomotor activity, pulses in recruitment) of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) are well documented. In this study, we hypothesized that the orientation of glass eels at sea is related to the lunar cycle. The European eel hatches in the Sargasso Sea and migrates across the Atlantic Ocean towards Europe. Upon reaching the continental shelf, the larvae metamorphose into glass eels and migrate up the estuaries, where some individuals colonize freshwater habitats. How glass eels navigate pelagic waters is still an open question. We tested the orientation of 203 glass eels in a transparent circular arena that was drifting in situ during the daytime, in the coastal Norwegian North Sea, during different lunar phases. The glass eels swimming at sea oriented towards the azimuth of the moon at new moon, when the moon rose above the horizon and was invisible but not during the other moon phases. These results suggest that glass eels could use the moon position for orientation at sea and that the detection mechanism involved is not visual. We hypothesize a possible detection mechanism based on global-scale lunar disturbances in electrical fields and discuss the implications of lunar-related orientation for the recruitment of glass eels to estuaries. This behaviour could help glass eels to reach the European coasts during their marine migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number190812
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume6
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

eel
Moon
glass
lunar cycle
lunar phase
estuary
sea
activity pattern
metamorphosis
azimuth
continental shelf
life cycle
larva
disturbance
coast
ocean
habitat

Keywords

  • European eel
  • Lunar cycle
  • Migration
  • Orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Cresci, A., Durif, C. M., Paris, C. B., Thompson, C. R. S., Shema, S., Skiftesvik, A. B., & Browman, H. I. (2019). The relationship between the moon cycle and the orientation of glass eels (Anguilla anguilla) at sea. Royal Society Open Science, 6(10), [190812]. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190812

The relationship between the moon cycle and the orientation of glass eels (Anguilla anguilla) at sea. / Cresci, Alessandro; Durif, Caroline M.; Paris, Claire B.; Thompson, Cameron R.S.; Shema, Steven; Skiftesvik, Anne Berit; Browman, Howard I.

In: Royal Society Open Science, Vol. 6, No. 10, 190812, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cresci, Alessandro ; Durif, Caroline M. ; Paris, Claire B. ; Thompson, Cameron R.S. ; Shema, Steven ; Skiftesvik, Anne Berit ; Browman, Howard I. / The relationship between the moon cycle and the orientation of glass eels (Anguilla anguilla) at sea. In: Royal Society Open Science. 2019 ; Vol. 6, No. 10.
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