‘Basically as big as they get’: Texas researcher finds huge eel washed ashore on Mustang Island

“This thing is massive”

A large American eel was found in the sand on Mustang Island this month.

Jace Tunnell, a reserve director at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, happened upon the dead eel, which had washed ashore. In a video on YouTube, Tunnell presents the eel which he said was around four feet long.

“This is basically as big as they get,” Tunnell said.

Tunnell added that American eels are typically much smaller and are frequently used as a fishing bait.

“Obviously, this one’s too big for that,” Tunnell said.

Tunnel said the eel was likely a female -- They’re larger than the males. Large females can have up to four million eggs.

The American eel is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Tunnell explained that this was in part due to the negative impact of dam building on the eel’s life cycle.

“Whenever all the dams and stuff started coming in, the life cycle of these fish, of going up the rivers, coming down the rivers, and going way out in to the ocean to be able to have their eggs […] with those dams on the rivers, really, they weren’t able to do the things they would normally do.”

The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, which Tunnell manages, conducts research and education into preserving healthy Texas coastlines.

About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.