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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Looking for love: The lonely conger eel released into the wild so he can find a mate

By Rob Cooper

Set free: Rip, a 6ft long conger eel, is released into the open sea today after being set free by diver Billy Hunter

A conger eel looking for love was released from captivity yesterday so he can swim 2,000 miles to find a mate.

The 6ft eel - named Rip - has been living in an aquarium for seven years but has grown to so large that he was finding it difficult to move around.

Staff at the Macduff Marine Aquarium in Moray, Aberdeenshire, said he was showing signs that he was ready to migrate.

He was hoisted out of his tank and lowered into the North Sea today before divers set him free.

Rip is expected to swim to the deep waters of the western Atlantic to breed but it is likely to take him several weeks for him to get there.

Aquarium Learning officer, Sandra Bisset, said: 'The lifting operation was a success. He was lifted up then put in the water but he wouldn't come out of the bag for a start. He certainly gave everyone a bit of entertainment.

'Quite a lot of people came to see him go. There was an in-service day up here so quite a few children turned up to give him a cheer.

Release: Rip will swim more than 2,000 miles to find a mate. He has lived in captivity for the last seven years but has become too big

Set free: He was transported from his aquarium to the North Sea before being released from this yellow sack

'I'm not too sure how long the migration will take. It depends on whether he goes straight there or stays here for a while.'

Marine centre staff have been feeding Rip a diet of squid and mackerel so he is strong enough to migrate

It is not the first time Macduff Marine Aquarium staff have set a conger free to find love. Stretch was released into the sea to begin the mammoth journey to breed in 2004.

Release into the wild: Diver Claire Matthews tries to catch Rip in his tank at the Macduff Marine Aquarium before he is taken to the North Sea



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