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article imageAle, the world’s oldest European eel, dies at age 155 in Sweden

By Martin Laine     Aug 8, 2014 in Environment
Normally a creature of the sea, Åle had resided in an old water well since 1859. His demise was discovered Thursday when the well’s present owner went to show him to some guests.
Ale took up residence in the well, located in the fishing village of Brabtevik, in the Skane district of Sweden, after eight-year-old Samuel Nilsson threw him in. This was not the mischievous act of a naughty little boy, according to an article in The Local.
Because eels feed on bugs and other unwanted creatures, it was a way of keeping the water relatively clean in places where there was no public water supply.
Over the years, Ale became a celebrity as the subject of books and documentaries, and making numerous cameo appearances on TV. He is survived by his long-time 110-year-old nameless companion. There was no burial. His remains are currently in Tomas Kjellman’s freezer. He’s waiting to find out what contributed to the creature’s longevity, as well as determining its exact age.
”Eels normally live to be only seven years old,” Kjellman said. ”They usually get so fat and their intestinal canals stop working.” The age of an eel can be determined by growth rings on the animal’s otoliths — a part of the inner ear structure, according to an article in The Irish Naturalist’s Journal.
Because the well was usually covered with a lid, Ale lived almost entirely in the dark. To compensate, the eel had developed ”grotesquely” large eyes, according to Kjellman.
Kjellman’s family bought the property in 1962. Ale was already a celebrity. His 100th birthday was front page news in Sweden in 1959.
”Of course it’s sad,” he said. ”I have memories of the eel from when I was a child.”
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