The Mystery of the Eels

Watch The Mystery of Eels on PBS. See more from Nature.

There are a lot of things we still do not know about eels.  We touched upon how long it took for us to even realize that they reproduce.  So I was pretty excited about this documentary on eels.  And the introduction helped stoke that excitement.  The new PBS keeps raising the standard ever higher with every documentary.

The documentarian, an artist, who has taken to dipping eels in ink and then placing them over a canvas thus "painting" eels, starts the documentary saying, "I felt compelled to unravel the secrets of their life cycle."  Great!  Then he mentioned all the things we still do not know about eels: no humans have ever seen them spawn, we do not know where they spawn, we do not know how they distribute themselves throughout their native range, we do not know what triggers them to enter fresh water, and we do not know what determines their gender once they get to fresh water.  Wow!  This documentary was going to reveal all that?

Then the documentarian introduces us to the human cultures that interact with eels.  He lets us know that the Maori only catch as many as they need to eat, Americans catch as many as they possibly can who in turn sell them to the Chinese who raise them in farms, who in turn sell them to the Japanese whose restaurant owners lie to them and tell them they are Japanese eels.  Humanity, LOL.  But then he tells us of the Pohnpeians who apparently are models who wear bikinis and emerge from the ocean and worship the eels.  He does not refer to the Pohnpeians by name, rather he calls them a tribe from a Micronesian island.

So as the hour dragged on, I kept wondering when we will find out the answers to all the questions that were posited at the beginning of the documentary.  And that is when I heard, "Are we sometimes better off not knowing?" which was soon followed by, "It's refreshing that there's still some things in nature we don't understand and maybe we don't need to."

Is this even worth watching anymore?



Profile photo of AsFarAsImConcernedNelliesStillFantasticAsFarAsImConcernedNelliesStillFantastic
April 18th, 2013  3:47 PM

Silly Henry, this is why we say something is as slippery as an eel.

Profile photo of FlossyFlossy
April 19th, 2013  11:21 AM

Also, nice to have a non Boston bomber post.