There is no mistaking the conger eel, which is famous for living within the wrecks of old ships, boats and also taking up residence within the nooks and crannies of steep sides cliff faces.

They can be found all around the British Isles and Ireland, off the coast and over wrecks.

Conger eels are one of the very few fish that can swim backwards.


The conger eels resembles a snake. It is scaleless, long, smooth and extremely powerful. The tail is pointed and surrounded by a continuation of the dorsal fin which merges with the tail and anal fins.

You can see that the pectoral fin almost overlaps the leading edge of the dorsal fin – this distinguishing feature helps determine young conger eels from the common eel.

They tend to be a uniform brown along the back with a pale cream underside when living in shallower water, but catch one from a deep wreck and you will find that it will be grey/brown or even slate blue across its back.

They are commonly 2m long, but some conger eels can reach 3m in length.


Conger eels are ferocious creatures that have very large jaws and a very powerful bite. They will feed upon almost anything that crawls or swims, providing it isn’t too large.

Crabs, worms, crustaceans, flatfish and other small fish, plus rotting flesh are all prime targets for the conger eels.

They feed mainly at night by scouring the sea bed. During daylight hours they will tuck themselves away within their hidey holes.


European Conger eels breed in the tropical Atlantic Ocean, within certain spawning grounds between the Azores and Gibraltar. Here the female will lay several million eggs, in open water, at a depth of over 3000m.

Unfortunately, the long journey and the transformation that takes place within the conger eels during breeding time ensures that they can only breed once and they subsequently die.

The young conger eels are flattened and transparent. They float to the surface and drift with the current for almost 2 years until they reach the shore where they will have transformed into true conger-like fish.