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Eel caught in southwest Minn. lake after lengthy swim

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DNR fisheries workers netted an American eel late last month
DNR fisheries workers netted an American eel late last month, just the second such creature caught in a Minnesota lake in 25 years.
Courtesy of Department of Natural Resources

A very determined, or confused, American eel apparently made its way from the North Atlantic Ocean all the way to Cottonwood Lake in southwest Minnesota.

The state Department of Natural Resources says fisheries workers were surveying the lake late last month when they pulled up a 37.4 inch female American eel in their net. 

While it's not rare to find an American eel in the Mississippi or Minnesota river, the DNR said, this particular animal is distinguished. 

"The interesting aspect to this particular eel is that it was caught in a lake a good distance from the river," DNR southern region fisheries manager Jack Lauer said in a statement. "It was well in excess of 30 river miles upstream from the confluence of the Yellow Medicine and Minnesota rivers."

This eel's path appears to be one of the less-direct routes one could take to Cottonwood Lake.

It likely started in the Sargasso Sea, the DNR said, which is the region of the North Atlantic where American eels spawn. 

The larvae then seek a freshwater habitat, riding currents for sometimes thousands of miles, according to the DNR.

The eel that found its way into Cottonwood Lake likely rode waves south into the Gulf of Mexico before swimming upstream through the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.

The only other eel found in a Minnesota lake in the past 25 years was in Spring Lake, the DNR said.