I spotted a post earlier this week on a blog I follow which referred to one of the little-known jewels in the North Queensland crown, Lake Barrine.
In the post, blogger Michael Lai speaks of the lake’s pristine water, it’s beautiful flora and fauna, and (quite rightly) of ‘the best scones and tea we ever had’.
But he doesn’t mention the boat-trip around the lake that takes place every couple of hours – and of the fascinating commentary, including telling the tale of the Long-Finned Eel – Anguilla Reinhardtii
The lake, which is in a volcanic crater fed only by rainwater, is home to a colony of the eels – but they are all female. How?
Well, it seems that the virgin eels (which are carnivorous and grow to between one and three metres) live in the lake for around 10 or 15 years – but then their biological clocks tell them it’s time .. so they slither out of the lake into a creek (which only flows out at the height of the wet season) and wend their way hundreds of kilometres to the Coral Sea, near the Solomon Islands.
They then mate, and spawn – and die.
But their itty-bitty-baby eels, called elva, then start swimming back to their mamas’ place .. across 1200km of open sea, and then 70km of rivers and creeks – and climbing 700 metres in the process.
When they get there, the eels live quietly, in a sort of slithery sisterhood, until the time comes to head back out to see for a little eely jiggy-jig – and the whole process starts again.
But I have to ask .. how did the first eels get there? This is a lake that is entirely self-contained – it was never connected to the sea. So how did great-great-great-grandma Ellie the Eel make her way to Lake Barrine?
And for that matter how did the fish that she (and her slippery siblings) eat, make their way to the lake?
I don’t know. But I wonder about such things.
So, next time I’m in Far North Queensland, I’ll head back up to Lake Barrine, and ask.
Which, not entirely coincidentally, will give me an excuse to have some more of the scones and tea at the tearoom 🙂