Oceans to Rivers and Back Again: Celebrating the Journey of the American Eel to the Ottawa River

Special American Eel Awareness Event this Saturday, July 18th 2015 at the Rideau Locks in Ottawa!

Press Release

July 18th, 2015 – OTTAWA, Ontario

Ottawa Riverkeeper and the Canadian Wildlife Federation invite you to celebrate the American eel. Learn about its remarkable journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ottawa River and discover why the eel population is dwindling in the Ottawa River.

On Saturday, July 18, with financial support from the Ottawa Wavemakers micro-grant, Ottawa Riverkeeper and Canadian Wildlife Federation, welcome you to a special American eel awareness event on the shores of the Ottawa River, featuring live eels, games and crafts for children and the opportunity to talk with eel experts. Drop by Rideau Locks, behind the Chateau Laurier on the Ottawa River, from 10 am – 2 pm, to learn more about the extraordinary life of these unique and misunderstood creatures and their importance to the Ottawa River. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Celebrate the Journey of the #Americaneel to the #OttawaRiver!

A video posted by Ottawa Riverkeeper (@ottriverkeeper) on

About the American Eel

Since its listing as an endangered species under the Ontario Endangered Species Act in 2008, efforts have been underway to aid in the recovery of the American eel throughout the Ottawa River watershed through various collaborative projects from government, industry, NGOs and local community groups alike.

Since 2011, Canadian Wildlife Federation, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Arnprior District Fish and Game Club, has been studying the American eel population in the Ottawa River to assess their upstream migration movements and habitat preference with the goal of guiding future recovery efforts.

The American eel, a unique elongated fish native to eastern Canada, is one of the most remarkable and vulnerable fish species in the Ottawa River. This species has a fascinating and complex life history compared to most other fish. It is one of the few species that is capable of living in both salt and freshwater. Starting off as a small egg in the Sargasso Sea, in the Atlantic Ocean, young eels hatch and migrate along oceanic currents to the many freshwater streams and rivers along North America’s east coast. They make their home there for many years before tracing their roots back to the Ocean. Once an extremely abundant species throughout the Ottawa River and its surrounding tributaries, today it is considered rare and at risk of disappearing from these waters. Over the past 30 years, the population of American eel in the Ottawa River has suffered a rapid decline. It is estimated that the historical population of this species, once numbering in the several thousands, has decreased by as much as 90% leaving its numbers in the mere hundreds. As a result, American eel are now designated as a species-at-risk in Ontario.

While there are a number of factors contributing to the decline, such as commercial fisheries, pollution and habitat degradation, hydroelectric dams have had the most significant impact on the American eel. The construction of dams creates a barrier to both upstream and downstream migration of the American eel and limits the availability of its freshwater habitat. An eel seeking to migrate upstream, is often unable to bypass these barriers and downstream migration can be lethal as a result of passage through hydro-electric turbines.

Despite its dwindling status, hope is not yet lost!

Join us and learn more about the Ottawa River’s American eel and how you can be a part of its recovery!

About The Canadian Wildlife Federation

The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a national not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to ensuring an appreciation of our natural world and a lasting legacy of healthy wildlife and habitat. By spreading knowledge of human impacts on the environment, developing and delivering educational programs, sponsoring research, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, recommending policy changes and co-operating with like-minded partners, CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. For more information, visit:  CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca.

About Ottawa Riverkeeper

Ottawa Riverkeeper is a grassroots charity dedicated to protecting the Ottawa River and its tributaries. Ottawa Riverkeeper inspires action and works collaboratively to achieve a healthy river where every person in our watershed can safely swim, drink and fish. Ottawa Riverkeeper is a licensed member of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots advocacy organization founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.



Social Media

  • Follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @ottriverkeeper @CWF_FCF
  • Hashtags for Twitter & Instagram: #OttawaRiver #rivièredesOutaouais, #AmericanEel, #Anguille



Meaghan Murphy
Ottawa Riverkeeper | River Watch Program Coordinator | 1-613-301-9762 | mmurphy@ottawariverkeeper.ca

David Browne
Canadian Wildlife Federation | Director of Conservation | 1-613-599-9594 | davidb@cwf-fcf.org

Pam Logan
Canadian Wildlife Federation | Director of Communications | 1-613-599-9594 | paml@cwf-fcf.org