A giant rare eel which is thought to have been born thousands of miles away in Bermuda and to be more than 20 years old has been found living in a canal in the West Midlands.

The Canal and River Trust found the 5lb 10oz eel in the Ridgacre Branch Canal near West Bromwich after nearly 200lbs of fish were rescued from the waterway following a pollution incident.

John Ellis, national fisheries and angling manager at The Canal and River Trust, said: “Finding an eel this size is pretty amazing as it’s not something you see every day. I’m delighted we’ve had a chance to admire this wonderful creature.

“Eels are such a fascinating animal, they start life as a little egg in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda and make an epic 4,000 mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean to end up in canals and rivers across Europe and North Africa.

“Once they enter in the canal they will spend their life growing and maturing before returning to the Sargasso Sea to breed.”

Eels are protected by law and are capable of surviving for periods of time out of water. Once eels have left the rivers to return to the sea to spawn, they stop feeding, and so have to rely on stored energy alone.

Mr Ellis added: “We safely put the eel back in a nearby canal so it can continue exploring our wonderful waterways. And if you’re really lucky you might just catch a glimpse of it swimming somewhere near you!”

Picture credit: The Canal and River Trust