Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER TONY LUCAS: Giant eels in New Zealand

Tony Lucas is one of our New Zealand representatives. We first published his work in the 2008 Yearbook when he wrote us an overview of New Zealand cryptozoology. New Zealand is a particularly fascinating place because of its zoological isolation from the rest of the world.....
Tales of giant Eels abound worldwide and New Zealand has its fair share. There are two species of Eel which are endemic to New Zealand. The Long-finned Eel - Anguilla diefenbachii (Grey 1936), they are known for their great size and aggressiveness, The other is the Short-finned Eel - A schmidtii (Schmidt 1927), a shy, retiring creature more common than its long finned relative.

The largest Eel caught was officially recorded at 5ft in length and weighed an estimated 46lb. There is, however rumour of an Eel captured at Lake Waitapiti weighing 120lb. Other rumours abound from different regions of Eels reaching 7-10 feet in length, having a girth as thick as a mans thigh and weighing on average around 80-100 lbs.

How do they get so big you may well ponder? It's all to do with age and senility.
Eels can live up to 80 years, and as they age, they become a bit bone idle and defy the urge to migrate and spend the rest of their days in freshwater fattening up, growing to gargantuan proportions. These colossuses prefer to reside in slow flowing, deep, vegetation filled streams.

The females of both species are generally bigger than the males; from this we can therefore deduce any extremely large Eel is going to be female. Another supposition that can be made is the fact that the Long-finned Eel is larger than the Short-finned. It is therefore safe to infer that any Eel of giant proportions must be a female Long-finned Eel.

Both species feed on living and dead flesh.

Not having any predatory species of fish in this country, such as Pike ect, they are the top freshwater predator in the lakes and rivers. Accounts of giant Eels, or Eel-like creatures, date back to the time of early Maori colonisation. One engrossing account comes from the Bay of Plenty, in the North Island, from an area near what is now Whakatane.

A giant Eel-like creature known as Tuna Tuoro occupied a local river, it is said that its touch was able to paralyse a person. Could this be an account of some hereto unknown species of Electric Eel?

A more contemporary account refers to a farmer from the Wairarapa region of the North Island.
As is the practice on many farms, he had just dispatched a sheep to feed his dogs.

At the top of a small cliff with a stream running below it, he proceeded to dress the animal, hurling the offal over the cliff to the stream below. Suddenly, he heard a loud turmoil coming from the base of the cliff and looked below to see the water boiling as two colossal Eels tugged at each end of the scrap of offal he had just thrown over the cliff.

With the copious food supply, lack of competition and ample ideal habitat you would think more Eels of giant stature would be captured. These giants, however, stick to the deep waters and it is said are intelligent enough to know all the tricks to remain hidden from the sight of man.


Aquaman said...

Hi Tony,
-I am currently researching an article on large Longfin eels in NZ and have just read your very interesting blog on the subject, could you tell me where Lake Waitapiti is though, as I havent been able to find any reference to its location?

Tony Lucas - Citizen Scientist said...

It is a smallish lake in the vacinity of Lake Rotoiti in the South Island from what I can gather, I hope this is of some help to you.