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  • Melinda Murphy

Video call the eels

While animals all around the world have relished the chance to reclaim land as humans recede into their homes during the pandemic, one Japanese aquarium says that the lack of people is actually posing a problem for animals in captivity, specifically eels.

The Sumida Aquarium, which is housed in the Tokyo Skytree tower, noticed that its (link in Japanese) hundreds of tiny spotted garden eels have started acting oddly, such as burrowing into the sand when aquarium workers pass by the tank. The aquarium says that’s because the eels have become unfamiliar with humans, as it has been closed to visitors since March 1.

Garden eels are by nature highly vigilant and sensitive and do submerge themselves in the sand when triggered, but the aquarium said that the eels had learned to accept the presence of humans because there were so many visitors. Now, as they get used to a human-less environment, the eels’ newfound shyness is making the work of aquarium staff difficult, as they cannot check on the health of the creatures.

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