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Fish #45 Euoropean Eel Anguilla anguilla ~ Keith Norman
Hard pastel and watercolour 42 x 59 cm
Anguilla Anguilla. So good they named you twice.
Serpent of river and sea and jellied for Pearly Kings and Queens
I caught you in a local stream
A length of 2x2 into the weed and drag you up the bank
As you slithered back to water refuge you were caught and sold for smoking
Half a Crown was your worth, if a decent size
Always mysterious in your life cycle
Starting in the sea, life in fresh inland or brackish coastal water and returning to the ocean to spawn and die
You once lived to a century or more and grow to enormous length.
But not now.
You've made the critically endangered list and too few grow to adolescence.
Since the 70s a decline of 95% with parasites, overfishing and barriers to migration blamed
Breeding projects tried to simulate your ocean phase but you're not fooled by artificial currents, hormones and special diets.
Snake like, slimy Eel you lack the glamour of other fishy friends
I repent the mistakes of youth and hope you once again bring the mystery of the Saragossa to our British shores.
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