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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The long, slow road to the Sargasso


I had a dream about riding on a giant eel decades ago as a child and the image has remained with me. In the drawing a tired couple and their baby have lashed themselves to a giant eel to hitch a desperate ride home under the safety of moonlight. Not quite as unlikely a tale as you might think as the European eel is a remarkable creature. Every adult eel leaves its freshwater habitat and returns to the Sargasso sea (which surrounds Bermuda) to spawn, thousands of miles away from the 'homeland'. A bit like salmon and sea-trout, but in reverse. Incredibly, they cross damp fields by night, able to breathe for long periods out of water. I remember my local fishmongers in north London kept them alive in big black plastic trays, in a centimetre of water, so that they remained fresh. European eels are now sadly declining in numbers so perhaps this allegorical image will do it's small bit and help inspire more interest in them. Interestingly, Arisotle had his own views on where they came from. He stated that they were born of "earth worms", which emerged from the mud with no fertilization needed — they grew from the "guts of wet soil". Black and blue Bic biro and white sketching pencil on my usual sketchpad.

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