The Minnesota DNR is calling this American eel's journey to Minnesota "impressive."
The female eel was found in Cottonwood Lake in Lyon County during a DNR survey on June 23, which was pretty surprising because it's rare for an American eel to end up in a Minnesota lake – especially one so far from the Mississippi River.
That's because American eels spawn in the Sargasso Sea in the north Atlantic Ocean, with the larvae randomly traveling hundreds or thousands of miles on currents to a freshwater habitat, where the eel spends most of its life, the DNR said in an email news release. The eel then goes back to the Sargasso Sea, where it spawns and dies.
What makes this eel's journey "all the more impressive" is she would have likely ridden ocean currents to the Gulf of Mexico, then swam upstream thousands of miles via the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, before finding her way into Cottonwood Lake.
"It’s not unheard of to find an American eel in the Mississippi or Minnesota River,” DNR southern region fisheries manager Jack Lauer said in a statement. "The interesting aspect to this particular eel is that it was caught in a lake a good distance from the river. It was well in excess of 30 river miles upstream from the confluence of the Yellow Medicine and Minnesota rivers."
This is only the second time an American eel has been discovered in a Minnesota lake in the past 25 years. The other eel was found in Spring Lake, which is directly connected to the Mississippi River.
The eel, which measured 37.4 inches, has been released back into Cottonwood Lake.