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River Creatures

There are two native eel or tuna species in our region: the shortfin and the longfin. There is an easy way of telling difference between our two native eels. A Horizons Regional Council researcher explains in this very brief video.

The longfin has wrinkly skin where it bends and the dorsal fin is considerably longer than the anal (bottom) fin. The dorsal fin of a shortfin eel only extends a little further forward than the anal fin.

Department of Conservation has further information:

  • Longfin eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) : Conservation status: At Risk- Declining. Found only in New Zealand.
  • Shortfin eel (Anguilla australis). Conservation status: Not Threatened. Found in New Zealand, Australia and some Pacific Islands.

Longfin eels, as well as being rare, are less able to cope with changes to their environment than their shorter-finned relative. They are heavily affected by human activities, such as pollution, the building of dams, loss of vegetation near their habitat, and overfishing.