According to Wiki, this is a photo of the New Zealand Longfin Eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii). It is our only endemic freshwater eel.
Their amazing life story can be read on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_longfin_eel and http://www.doc.govt.nz/conservation/native-animals/fish/facts/eel/
The female of the species can live up to 100 years, and sometimes longer. She breeds only once, at the end of her lifecycle, and to do this she migrates from her freshwater New Zealand home to Tonga, in the tropical Pacific 5000 kilometres away. She dies after spawning so only her offspring find their way back to New Zealand.
I have seen longfin eels at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. As far as I am concerned, their appearance leaves a lot to be desired in the cute and cuddly stakes. I daresay these remarkable creatures would say the same about me. And what they would say about my inability to find my way to Tonga without a map or plane or boat, plus supporting crew, doesn’t bear thinking about.
A few days ago, some of the eels had more reason than ever to wonder about human incompetence and stupidity. According to our daily newspaper, a couple of young men, feeling bored and wanting some easy entertainment, purportedly broke in to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and killed at least two and possibly more of the longfin eels. The eels were about 70 years old.
A great many sad things happened in the world last week but, for me the untimely and undignified deaths of these precious eels was the saddest happening of all. Sad for the young men, sad for our community but, most of all, sad for the eels. Imagine, if they were 70 years old, they made their way to New Zealand when the Pacific was embroiled in World War 2. They defied the odds to live at all. Yet live and thrive they did, in peace and harmony in a less than perfect, person-messed, environment, until a moment of thoughtless idleness ended their magnificence.