Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Use of the American Eel


The primary objectives for this study are to 1) investigate the distribution and abundance of American eels in the coastal waters of Texas with a focus on elvers; and 2) investigate habitat use of American eel in the coastal waters of Texas with a focus on elvers. 

Study Area

Coastal Guadalupe River Basin to the Sabine River Basin, Texas

Project Period

2017 – 2019


The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) is a catadromous panmictic species that has long provided important fisheries along the northeastern portion of the United States. American eels spend most of their life in freshwater or estuarine environments, traveling to the ocean as adults to reproduce and die. American eels, like all Anguillids, have unique life stages, including a marine leptocephalus larva, glass eel (also known as elvers), yellow eel, and silver eel. Because of declining catches and abundance, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been approached to list this species as endangered.

In order to assess the status of the American eel in Texas, life history information such as distribution, abundance, habitat use, and population structure throughout the upper Texas coast needs to be gathered using historical data and extensive field surveys. These data are useful in assisting resource management agencies in determining the conservation need of the American eel and direct future projects that may impact the well-being and longevity of this species.

Publications and Presentations

Hansen, J. 2020. Speckled worm eel (Myrophis punctatus) in the estuarine waters of Texas: a "dove tale" of the elusive American eel (Anguilla rostrata). University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Mays, K., Curtis, S., McCoy, G., Hendrickson, D.A., Cohen, A.E., Casarez, M., Guillen, G., Oakley, J., and Hansen, J. 2020. Preliminary results of American eel sampling efforts in Gulf of Mexico drainages of Texas. Annual Meeting of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society, Little Rock, AR. Poster.

Hansen, J. 2019. The hunt for the elusive American eel in Texas: a story about eels and blue crab. Annual Meeting of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society, Galveston, TX. Presentation.

Hansen, J., Oakley,J., Curtis, S., and Guillen, G. 2018. Hunting for the elusive American eel along the Texas coast. Biennial Gulf Estuary Research Society Meeting, Galveston, TX. Poster.

Project Sponsors


  • Environmental Institute of Houston

    Phone: 281-283-3950
    Email: eih@uhcl.edu

    North Office Annex
    2700 Bay Area Blvd, Box 540
    Houston, TX 77058-1002