Snorkeling, Eels and Sample Bias

I’ve been fishing, swimming and walking the shoreline around my mom’s summer house for almost 30 years, and so I have a pretty good idea of what kinds of fish there are out there. Most of them I have only seen during fishing with nets, so it’s clear that the visible sample of fish species depends on your methods. I have never seen an eel.

Another thing I have hardly ever done around my mom’s summer place is snorkeling. But during the past week, seeing as it’s an unusually warm summer with unusually clear water, I’ve taken up that pastime. Of course, it’s not anything like the coral reefs of Eilat or the waters around Phuket, but still, it’s good fun to see what’s under those waves I’ve swum so many times.

I saw two fine pikes (Esox lucius, gädda), one of which was hiding its head under bladder wrack but leaving its rear exposed. I dived down and poked at the fish, and it zoomed away leaving a cartoonish cloud of disturbed bottom sediment. I saw a large bream (Abramis brama, braxen) grazing algae and watching me with a round eye. It left at high speed, tail fin working furiously, before I managed to poke it. It’s a herbivore, needs to move fast when large predators show up.

And I saw my first live wild eel (Anguilla anguilla, Ã¥l), right by our swimming cove. A big mutha, sinuously wavy, floating still just above the sand, pectoral fins moving lazily. Watched it for a long time, dived down, poked it, saw it swim away. We can’t catch eels with any of the equipment we’ve got, and so I’ve never seen one before. Lovely experience!

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6 thoughts on “Snorkeling, Eels and Sample Bias

  1. Yup. For me, the angler’s bias shows up at the lake when something floats by dead or dying. Two years ago the only whitefish I’ve seen here, a large one, floated up on shore. Today, a bowfin wounded by a prop but still alive floated by (Well, I’ve caught bowfin, but I’m one of the only, if not THE only, person on this lake who actually tries to catch them.)


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