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World's oldest eel's head recovered at last

Published: 11 Aug 2014 13:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Aug 2014 14:37 GMT+02:00

All is well - the head of Åle the eel has been found.

Fish expert Johan Wagnström searched in the old well - the eel's abode for 155 years - for several hours on Tuesday with no success. There was still no head.

So finally he checked the freezer, where the eel's body had rested before being sent for analysis - and voila, chilled eel head.

The eel now awaits its autopsy at the Freshwater Institute in Stockholm, where experts will analyze the ringed otoliths in its ears to determine its exact age.

"The owner of the well wasn't too keen on getting down there himself," Wagnström said. "And it was worth it, since it could give us new expertise on how to analyse the ear stones."


The expert on the hunt for eel head. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

It was the summer of 1859 when Åle the eel (pronounced Oh-leh) was tossed into his dark new home. There he lived, making headlines every now and then, and there he died in 2014, leaving behind his 110-year-old nameless friend.

The news shocked the eel's owners, and indeed the world - which is now waiting in anticipation to hear exactly how old Åle was. The fishy body was sent to Institute of Freshwater Research in Stockholm county for study.

But Åle was a headless wonder.

"The eel had dissolved so much by the time they found it that it split in two when they tried to get it up," Wagnström explained.

At any rate, Åle's autopsy will not be completed until August 25th at the earliest.

The eel has always been a minor celebrity in Sweden, but Åle became known on a global scale after international media picked up The Local's story and interview with eel-owner Tomas Kjellman. The eel made appearances on BBC, The Huffington Post, NY Daily News, The Times, and The Telegraph, among others.

Read also: World's oldest eel dies in Swedish well

The eel pictured is in fact Åle the eel, when he was only 100 years old. Photo: Private

Åle also was the star of his own hashtag, with the #RIPÅlen (RIP Eel) campaign taking over Twitter, started by a priest and artist who calls himself Wisti.

"The eel's death came timely," Wisti told The Local, saying he believed it was healthy to have something to joke about at a time when so much violence is occurring in the world.

"We were able to unite in pretend-mourning and actually relieve our thoughts of catastrophe a bit."

The farcical fun reached as far as Ireland and Canada - contribute your own homage to the eel.

And while you're at it, remember that there is still one lonely, nameless eel stuck in the well - what should we call it? Write your suggestions on Twitter under #NameTheEel.

For more stories about Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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