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They live a remarkable life.

Small tuna (eels) stay in the lower reaches of rivers for the summer months, before travelling upstream until they find a suitable place to call home – be it a stream, a marsh or a lake.  

There, they will take up residence until they become adults – a typical life span being 20-60 years for the females and 12-25 years for the males.  

Their residence does come to an end though. All freshwater eels share a common tropical saltwater ancestor, and instinct sends them on a 5-6 month migration to an area somewhere between New Caledonia and Tonga.  After one act of breeding, the adults die. 

Eel larvae then spend 7-10 months at sea, drifting in the currents until they reach NZ’s coast between Aug – Oct.  After metamorphosis and acclimatising from salt to fresh water, they enter the freshwater system as elvers. They live a remarkable life. 

AOTEAROA  ENDEMIC TUNA Aotearoa is blessed to have two species of endemic tuna (the Māori word for eel). The longfin eel is rare and at-risk due to pollution,  dams, loss of vegetation  and overfishing.

Source: Torbay Newsletter June 2022 Edition


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