9,000 eels are being reintroduced into the rivers of South Yorkshire by local schoolchildren in a bid to stop their decline in numbers.
The project has been set up by the environment charity Don Catchment Rivers Trust (DCRT), who have noted that eels numbers have dropped by 95% since the 1980s, although they were once very common in the area.
The Trusts project leader, Karen Eynon, showed the students how to raise the baby eels, known as elvers, in glass tanks at the school and said that the children were very excited by them.
The eels, once released, can live for up to 40 years. When they are ready to breed in 10-15 years time they will make the long swim across the Atlantic to breed in Sargasso Sea in the middle of the North Atlantic.
Eels play an important role of the food chain as they are eaten by wildlife including birds and otters, and so their numbers must be preserved.
Eel passes have been installed to allow them to swim freely upstream, past weirs and other obstructions.
This is not the first time the DCRT has reintroduced eels back into South Yorkshires rivers. In May, they released 50,000 into the wash lands of the Dearne valley.
More information can be found on the Don Catchment Rivers Trust website.
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