Week Four

Posted on

Welcome to the fourth instalment of our home learning resources, this week we’re learning all about the water cycle and the European eel. We really hope that you are enjoying these educational resources, don’t forget to let us know what you think about them – you can email us at [email protected]

We have introduced these online learning opportunities in response to Covid-19, which has prevented us from going into schools in the Ribble Catchment as we normally would. This is our way of bringing our educational topics to you at home so you can continue to learn all about rivers and wildlife. Each week we will be providing a new main topic, a Wildlife Fact file and a quiz.

Below is a Prezi focussing on the water cycle. After going through each section of this presentation you should be able to describe the water cycle and why it is important, understand each stage of the cycle and create links between these stages.

For this week’s Wildlife Fact file, we are looking at the European eel, which has a very interesting life cycle that baffled scientists and marine biologists for centuries.

Scientific name: Anguilla anguilla
Length: Up to 1m
Weight: 0.5-5kg
Average lifespan: 15-70 years

European eels are widespread and can be found in freshwater, coastal, wetland and marine habitats. They are very long, narrow fish and can grow to over one meter long! They look smooth and they do not have the obvious scales and gills that other fish have. They can be found in rivers and ditches, but leave their freshwater home to breed in an area of the West Atlantic Ocean known as the Sargasso Sea. Young eels (or ‘Elvers’) return to freshwater rivers, such as the River Ribble, to develop. Eels are predators and scavengers; they feed on things such as dead animals, fish eggs, invertebrates and other fish.

European eels are Critically Endangered and need our help to stop them going extinct. One of the main difficulties the eel faces is barriers to migration, such as weirs in rivers. Eels passes can be installed to help eels and elvers get past these barriers, which generally consist of bristles that allow the eels to slither up and pass obstruction. Look out for future eel pass projects from Ribble Rivers Trust!

Take a look at this video to learn more about the life of the European eel as it migrates from the Sargasso Sea to freshwater rivers in Europe, and back again. Although they mention Bristol and the River Avon, it is still relevant to the River Ribble and Ribble Catchment.


Eels are able to survive out of water for over 12 hours (some people have reported up to 48 hours), and can slither through wet grass to reach water.

Look at and read about the European eel’s interesting lifecycle below, and click on the images to open them as a pdf.


How much have you learnt about the water cycle and European eel? Test your knowledge with a quiz! If you aren’t sure about an answer, go back and complete the Prezi or read through the Wildlife Fact file again.

  1. Why is the water cycle important?
    1. Because I like to dance in the rain
    2. It is how water reaches all living things that need it
    3. Without it we would have no clouds
    4. Without it we wouldn’t be able to have snow
  1. What habitat types can the European eel be found in?
    1. Freshwater
    2. Saltwater
    3. Wetlands
    4. All of the above
  1. What does water become when it evaporates?
    1. Carbon dioxide
    2. Oxygen
    3. Water vapour
    4. Methane
  1. What stage comes after glass eel in the European eel lifecycle?
    1. Elver
    2. Silver eel
    3. Larval stage
    4. Eggs
  1. What process forms clouds?
    1. Evaporation
    2. Condensation
    3. Precipitation
    4. Collection
  1. What can be done to help eels get round obstructions in the river?
    1. Building a new river
    2. Building eel tunnels
    3. Providing signs with directions for the eels
    4. Building eel passes
  1. What process follows condensation in the water cycle?
    1. Evaporation
    2. Transpiration
    3. Precipitation
    4. Collection
  1. How long can an eel grow to be?
    1. 1 m
    2. 3 m
    3. 50 cm
    4. 10 mm
  1. What is the process of water soaking into the soil called?
    1. Transpiration
    2. Infiltration
    3. Condensation
    4. Sponge
  1. Where do European eels spawn?
    1. Freshwater rivers
    2. Arctic sea
    3. Sargasso Sea
    4. Ponds and lakes

Click here to see the answers!