Volunteers sought to monitor European Eels in the River Brent

Oli Back from Thames 21 is encouraging Brent locals to join their eel crusade

Oli Back from Thames 21 is encouraging Brent locals to join their eel crusade - Credit: Thames 21

Volunteers are being invited to become members of a citizen science Eel Force on the Brent river catchment.

Thames21, the London-based waterways charity, is working with groups on the River Brent.

ObstacEELS sessions on July 19 and 28 will train local communities to assess and map the physical barriers, such as weirs, sluices and locks, that the critically endangered European eel faces when migrating.

The European Eel, which starts life in the Caribbean, needs saving

The European Eel, which starts life in the Caribbean, needs saving - Credit: Thames 21

Training sessions take 90 minutes on Zoom and are followed by a practical session on a riverside.

The work is part of the Thames Catchment Community Eels Project, led by the Thames Rivers Trust. 


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Data collected by participants will be used to shape future projects to protect this once-common species and aid their survival.

Numbers reaching Europe fell by as much as 99 per cent in the 1980s. They are born in the Sargasso Sea, near the Caribbean, in the Atlantic Ocean.

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They drift 6,500km on the Gulf Stream to get to the UK, before making their way into our rivers where they live the majority of their lives.

As adults, they begin their long migration back to the Sargasso Sea where they lay their eggs and the process starts again.

A weir on the Brent River is an big obstacle for the European eel

A weir on the Brent River is an big obstacle for the European eel - Credit: Thames 21

Oli Back, the project officer for the Thames21 project, said: “European eels are a fascinating species but they face many issues.

"Not least are the river obstacles such as weirs, sluices and locks which can prevent their migration and have resulted in the European Eel being listed as critically endangered.

"Migration is a vital part of their life cycle.

“By joining our Eel Force, you’ll be contributing to efforts to save the species."

He added: "You’ll be helping to collect data to inform action plans across the Thames Basin about where best to target practical work to reconnect rivers and enable eels to reach areas they haven’t been able to for years.”

There are also opportunities for free guided walks and talks along rivers, plus workshops for schools and community groups to educate and engage residents about the European eel.

Thames 21 is working closely with the Zoological Society of London and the Thames Estuary Partnerships.

The Thames Catchment Community Eels Project is funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Visit www.thames21.org.uk/events/




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