Species: Tuna / Longfin eel / Anguilla eieffenbachii
Location: New Zealand - Endemic
Status: At Risk - Declining
Threats: Habitat loss and degradation, eel fishing, barriers to migration, pollution and high nutrient levels reducing oxygen in water are all threats to survival.
Our work: Habitat restoration and improvement through riparian planting, litter clean ups, monitoring and education.
It’s no wonder tuna are considered a taonga (treasure), having graced lakes, swamps, rivers and streams in Aotearoa for more than 23 million years. Tuna kuwharuwharu play an important role in Māori culture and have been studied for many generations to determine life cycles, ages, habitat and migration patterns. Female longfins, as they’re commonly known, reach breeding maturity at anywhere up to 100 years of age. They will then swim to Tonga where they lay millions of eggs before they die. They can grow to be more than 2 metres long making them the largest eel in the world.
The longfin eel is a truly amazing creature and we hope that by using these resources you, your children and/ or students come to love the tuna as much as we do. This eel is endemic to New Zealand and is also our top freshwater predator which makes them extremely important to the biodiversity of our waterways.
Sadly, eel populations are now declining, and they are considered an 'At Risk' species. The main cause of the decline has been human activity: pollution, deforestation, hunting, dams and culverts are all threats. The longfin eel sure does have a lot to deal with these days. These resources will help you understand more about these special creatures, their lives, threats and what we can do to help them. Dive right in and enjoy!
There are lots of other resources available online to help you learn all about the longfin eel. Here are some of our favourites:
Tuna Kuwharuwharu - An excellent, downloadable resource with all you need to know about the longfin eel.
Department of Conservation - DoC have lots of information about our native eels including an activity sheet, activities for students and how to tell our longfin and shortfin eels apart.
Auckland Zoo - Watch the eels being fed at Auckland Zoo.
Science Learning Hub - Great resources and activity ideas from the Science Learning Hub.
New Zealand Geographic - A wonderful in depth article for our more advanced readers about threats to and the future of the longfin eel.
Stuff - A great stuff article about commercial fishing and other threats to the longfin eel.
Eels in the wild - Just five minutes of eels swimming in their natural environments.
River Stories - Watch this award winning River Story about one man's fight to protect the longfin eel.
These resources are created by Conservation Volunteers New Zealand and sponsored by Mobil Oil New Zealand.