Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources–UINR is releasing a series of ten short videos on the American eel. Together, the series tells everything we know about the American eel in Cape Breton.
Produced in cooperation with Parks Canada, scientists from UINR, Parks Canada and Cape Breton University, fishers, cooks and Elders from around Cape Breton tell stories of the eel’s fascinating life cycle, its place in Mi’kmaq culture and efforts being made to protect its habitat.
Lisa Young, Executive Director at UINR explains. “The videos look at everything from the commercial eel fishery, cooking and eating eel to traditional eel fishing and making eel spears. Our declining eel population is a great concern and scientists are investigating reasons for this decline.”
The videos are fast-paced and feature seldom-seen footage of Donald Marshall Jr. cooking and preparing eel. Additional footage from George Marshall of Potlotek complement the production from videographer Madeline Yakimchuk of Gryphon Productions in Sydney, NS.
“This series of videos really brings the eel story to life,” says Maria O’Hearn, External Relations Manager, Parks Canada. “Everyone should become better acquainted with this elusive fish. These videos will go a long way in increasing awareness of the eels’ important role in our ecosystem on Cape Breton Island as well as the issues they face today.”
“Given that the American eel lives in seven national parks in Atlantic Canada including Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Parks Canada is pleased to work with UNIR on projects like this. It helps connect more people with the story of the eel, which will encourage the long-term protection of this threatened species.”
EEL HABITAT (April 17) – Where they live and all about eel lifestyle is the theme of this video. Shelley Denny, Katherine Jones and James Bridgland talk about what it’s like to be an eel!
EEL LIFECYCLE (April 18) – Eels can live to over 40 years and have a unique and complex lifecycle, starting life down south in the Sargaso Sea and finding their way to live and mature in Cape Breton lakes and rivers. Shelley Denny James Brigland, Katherine Jones and Angela Denny take you on the strange journey of the eel.
EEL PARASITE (April 19)- Katherine Jones, Shelley Denny and Angela Denny are scientists researching the eel bladder parasite in Cape Breton eels.The discovery of a roundworm infestation in eels has led to intensive study of the declining population.
EEL TRADITIONS (April 20) – Albert Marshall, Charlie Joe Malikewe’j, John Sylliboy, Kerry Prosper and Shelley Denny look at the traditions of eeling in Mi’kmaq culture and the traditional knowledge that has been passed down over thousands of years and is alive today.
EELS AT RISK (April 21) – Eels are a threatened species in Cape Breton and scientists here are determined to find out why. James Brigland, Shelley Denny and Katherine Jones tell us what they are learning from both science and traditional knowledge.
ENJOYING EEL (April 22) – There’s a reason why eel is so popular in Mi’kmaq –it’s delicious! Albert Marshall, Kerry Prosper, Charlie Joe Malikewe’j, John Sylliboy, Joe Googoo, Lorraine Marshall cook up an eel feast and share their secret recipes!
COMMERCIAL EELING (April 23) – John Couture , Kerry Prosper, Winston Bernard, Charlie Joe Malikewe’j, Albert Marshall, and John Sylliboy talk about the commercial eel fishery from several perspectives. They look at some of the reasons they feel the eel population is declining.
MAKING AN EEL SPEAR (April 24) – Kerry Prosper takes us through the entire process of making an eel spear, from finding just the right tree to how spears are made. Mi’kmaq youth are shown the tools and learn their place in the ancient eel tradition.
SUMMER EELING (April 25) – This video looks at how eels are speared in summer. Mi’kmaq fishers Tracey Googoo, Charlie Joe, Kerry Prosper and John Sylliboy talk about summer fishing and why the tradition is so important. UINR’s Angela Denny, Lorraine Marshall and Shelley Denny talk about their experiences in summer eeling.
WINTER EELING (April 26) – This video tells how eel are traditionally speared during the winter. Eel fishers Kerry Prosper and John Sylliboy explain everything about winter fishing from digging through the ice to how to spear. UINR researcher Shelley Denny looks at some of the traditions and methods used in Mi’kmaq winter fishing.