European eels begin their life cycle as eggs on the bottom of the Sargasso Sea. They hatch as leptocephali, leaf-like larvae (Tsukamoto, Nakai and Tesch, 1998). After hatching, larvae spend a maximum of one year migrating to Europe, or occasionally North America, via ocean currents. The larvae will then metamorphose into 'glass eels,' the next stage of the life cycle, and enter estuarine areas. Male glass eels contineu to grow for approximately 6 to 12 years; females for 9 to 20 years (Deelder, 1970). After a final metamorphosis, European eels migrate back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis