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2015_PHD_VERHELST_EEL - Acoustic telemetry data for European eel (Anguilla anguilla) in the Scheldt estuary and southern North Sea (Belgium)
Citable as data publication
Verhelst, P.; Reubens, J.; Coeck, J.; De Maerteleire, N.; Desmet, P.; Gelaude, E.; Mouton, A.; Pieters, S.; Reyserhove, L.; Robberechts, K.; Moens, T.; (2020): 2015_PHD_VERHELST_EEL - Acoustic telemetry data for European eel (Anguilla anguilla) in the Scheldt estuary and southern North Sea (Belgium). Marine Data Archive.

Availability: CC0 To the extent possible under law, the person who associated CC0 with this dataset has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this dataset.

This is an acoustic telemetry dataset published by Ghent University. It contains animal (fish) tracking data collected by the Permanent Belgian Acoustic Receiver Network ( for the project/study 2015_phd_verhelst_eel, using VEMCO tags (V13) and receivers (VR2AR, VR2Tx, VR2W). In total 136 female individuals of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) were captured, tagged and released between 2015 and 2018 in the Scheldt estuary, to study their migration behaviour - especially their use of selective tidal stream transport - in a tidal system without migration barriers. more

Large estuaries with a complete salinity gradient from a tidal freshwater zone to marine have become rare due to water regulating constructions such as sluices, shipping locks, water pumping stations and dams. However, the Scheldt estuary in Belgium still has an extensive estuary of ca 160 km. Diadromous fish have to overcome substantial distances which come with a high energetic cost. Due to the high energetic cost of migration and the low adult survival, some of these species have developed semelparity. Consequently, a bioenergetic trade-off between migration and reproduction may exist for semelparous fish species, especially since many will stop feeding during migration: the smaller the energy expenditure during migration, the larger the amount of energy that may remain available for gonad maturation. An example where migration can have important bioenergetic repercussions is migration through strong tidal systems. To reduce energy loss in such systems, fish may perform selective tidal stream transport (STST): an animal ascends into the water column with the appropriate tide and rests on or in the bottom during the opposite tide. However, the use of STST by silver European eels is still controversial. In this study, we found strong evidence that silver European eels apply STST. The results illustrate that eels can distinguish between ebb and flood and suggest that tides play a role in orientation, either directly or indirectly. The general migration speed was higher in the downstream part of the estuary compared to the upstream part, while tidal migration speed was equal in both parts, indicating that eels migrated more consistently in the downstream part. The results of this study give insight in how a diadromous species migrates through an estuary and underline the importance of the tides.

This dataset was collected using infrastructure provided by VLIZ and INBO funded by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) as part of the Belgian contribution to LifeWatch. Data were exported from the European Tracking Network data portal ( developed by VLIZ using the ETN R package ( developed by INBO. Field definitions can be found at

Biology > Acoustics, Biology > Ecology - biodiversity, Biology > Fish
Marine/Coastal, Fresh water, Brackish water, Acoustic telemetry, Acoustic Telemetry, Animal movement, Animal tracking, Biologging, Data, LifeWatch, Migration, VEMCO, ANE, Belgium, Belgian Coast, ANE, North Sea, ANE, Western Scheldt, Belgium, Dijle R., Belgium, Flanders, Belgium, Scheldt, Belgium, Zeeschelde, Antwerp Harbour, Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758)

Geographical coverage
ANE, Belgium, Belgian Coast [Marine Regions]
ANE, North Sea [Marine Regions]
ANE, Western Scheldt [Marine Regions]
Belgium, Dijle R. [Marine Regions]
Belgium, Flanders [Marine Regions]
Belgium, Scheldt [Marine Regions]
Belgium, Zeeschelde, Antwerp Harbour [Marine Regions]

Temporal coverage
18 April 2015 - 8 August 2020

Taxonomic coverage
Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]

Fish age Methodology
Fish detections
Fish lifestage
Fish sex
Fish total length
Horizontal eye diameter of fish
Pectoral fin length of fish
Vertical eye diameter of fish
Wet weight of fish
Fish age: Durif index

Universiteit Gent; Faculteit Wetenschappen; Vakgroep Biologie; Onderzoeksgroep Mariene Biologie (MARBIOL), moredata providerdata creator
Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ), moredata creator
Vlaamse overheid; Beleidsdomein Omgeving; Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek (INBO), moredata creator

Related datasets
Parent datasets:
European Tracking Network (ETN) data, more
LifeWatch observatory data: fish acoustic receiver network, more

The importance of estuarine and coastal areas for the migration of fish and recovery of populations, more

Based on this dataset
Verhelst, P. (2018). European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) movement behaviour in relation to habitat fragmentation - Novel insights inferred from acoustic telemetry. PhD Thesis. Ghent University: Gent. ISBN 9789082561166. xxvii, 381 pp., more

Dataset status: In Progress
Data type: Data
Data origin: Sensor platform
Metadatarecord created: 2017-11-24
Information last updated: 2022-10-21
All data in the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy