A team of researchers recently decided to investigate how eels are responding to the removal of a large dam in Virginia. Their findings are encouraging, to say the least: over the past years, the eel population in this area has been steadily increasing.
This is good news indeed, seeing how this fish species is a threatened one.
The environmental scientists who conducted this study argue that, ever since the Embrey Dam on the Rappahannock River was brought down, ever more eels have been showing up in Shenandoah National Park's streams.
Although back in the 20th century, when it was build, the Embrey Dam was rather necessary, as it provided sufficient energy to meet the demands of the city of Fredericksburg, the construction soon became obsolete and high officials decided to remove it in order to restore the natural habitats in this part of the country.
As their reports explain, these fish travel over incredible distances to reach their breeding sites. More precisely, they constantly move back and forth between the oceanic waters of the Sargasso Sea and the freshwater streams found along the Atlantic coast.
This is why, back when dams blocked their usual migratory routes, eels suffered a significant decline in their overall population.
The official website
for the US Geological Survey argues that having eels return to the Shenandoah National Park is a major achievement from a conservationist standpoint. Also, this study goes to show that continuous efforts aimed at environmental restoration sooner or later pay off.
One of the leading authors of this study, Dr. Nathaniel Hitt, explains how, “Our study shows that the benefits of dam removal can extend far upstream.”
Thus, “American eels have been in decline for decades and so we’re delighted to see them begin to return in abundance to their native streams.”
Given the fact that farmers have successfully fished and farmed eels in the past, it can be expected that once this fish species makes a full recovery in terms of population, fishing activities in the area might also help boost local economy.
This study was conducted by environmental specialists working with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.