Seamounts, new moon and eel spawning: The search for the spawning site of the Japanese eel

Katsumi Tsukamoto, Tsuguo Otake, Noritaka Mochioka, Tae Won Lee, Hans Fricke, Tadashi Inagaki, Jun Aoyama, Satoshi Ishikawa, Shingo Kimura, Michael J. Miller, Hiroshi Hasumoto, Machiko Oya, Yuzuru Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


After analyzing all the collection data for larvae of the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica, in the western North Pacific, we found that the spawning site of this species appears to be near three seamounts in the West Mariana Ridge, 2000-3000 km away from their freshwater habitats. These seamounts are located in the westward flow of the North Equatorial Current and are hypothesized to provide cues for migrating silver eels and to serve as possible aggregation sites for spawning. Back-calculated birth dates based on otolith microstructure of leptocephali indicate that the Japanese eel does not spawn continuously during the long spawning season from April to November, but is synchronized to spawn periodically once a month during new moon. This lunar periodicity of spawning and the seamount spawning hypothesis are new developments in the millennium-old mystery of eel spawning that has fascinated naturalists since the time of Aristotle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-229
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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