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Mum’s book the eel deal

By Beckie Wilson

[email protected]

Not many New Zealanders know the river-loving long fin eel is an endangered species, and that is what a new children’s book is trying to combat.

A copy of Eel Song by Amber McEwan.
A copy of Eel Song by Amber McEwan.

The illustrated book “Eel Song”, written by Masterton’s Amber McEwan, describes the migratory journey the adult female long fin eel makes to the Pacific waters where it mates, then the new born drift back to New Zealand.

Amber McEwan, mother-of-two, is a fresh water ecologist who has a special appreciation for eels, and is working to raise awareness of one of New Zealand’s endangered species.

It’s a book targeted at children, but adults can get something out of it too with the extra information pages at the back.

“One of the things I do is advocacy work, because a lot of people don’t know what an eel has to do [to survive], and in fact they are endangered,” she said.

The long fin eel has the same conservation status as a little spotted kiwi, she said.

“You can see them if you just go down to the stream relatively easily, but because of their long-life cycle they are really endangered.”

Amber McEwan's book aims to raise awareness for endangered long fin eel.
Amber McEwan’s book aims to raise awareness for endangered long fin eel.

The issue is because people can easily spot eels in streams and rivers, they don’t think they’re endangered, but short fin and long fin eels look very similar which creates the confusion.

The number of the long fin eels making their way back to New Zealand have dropped hugely, and scientists have done research and clarified that status.

This is Mrs McEwan’s fourth published book, two non-fiction showcasing fresh water fish, with another book coming out next year.

The illustrations are by Waikato based Sonia Frimmel, who has published her own guidebook for walks and bike rides in the Waikato.

The book can be bought online at Papawai Press.

 

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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