Why was an American eel found in Brays Bayou?

HOUSTON – From the surface it’s hard to tell, but cast a line into Brays Bayou near MacGregor Park, and an American eel could be waiting on the other end.

Over the weekend, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department  (TPWD) recorded its first sighting of an American eel in Brays Bayou, near the University of Houston.

“I’m really stoked. This is the first time we really sampled within that area so we’re definitely hoping to come back and put more effort into this part of the state,” said Stephen Curtis, an aquatic biologist with the department.

Curtis and some of his colleagues are trying to figure out how the unique animal, which has a mysterious history, travels from fresh water to salt water. 

“It’s cool to see this species utilizing these bayous and rivers, especially so close to the coast,” Curtis said. “They have a really unique life history, where they begin their lives off of the East Coast in the Sargasso Sea, and then they have a long journey to estuaries and rivers along the U.S. coast. There’s got to be a connection between our rivers here in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico  and then, presumably, the area where they’re born, and then they go back to spawn.”

The American eel is slimly and looks like a snake, but it’s harmless.

Biologists are asking people to help them locate American eels so they can track their locations. 

“It’s really cool to see them so close to Galveston Bay and confirm there is that connection with the Gulf of Mexico and with our bays and estuaries,” said Curtis. “I’m really excited to get back out there. We’re now just starting a project on the American eel and, every time we get a record we just get really excited.”

“Whenever you come across one at the end of your line, you’re going to remember it, and people are so excited to share that with us and we’re so excited to see folks out fishing and catching these guys. It’s a cool thing to see,” said Curtis.