How does your garden (eel colony) grow?

You usually find them bobbing and swaying in their central exhibit, searching for a passing nugget of food. But in one blink of an eye, they can quickly disappear into their sandy burrows en masse—zooop! Meet the garden eels, slender and sometimes shy seafloor dwellers in the Yawkey Coral Reef Center.

Garden eels sway in the currents | Photo: visitor picture

In this exhibit you'll find mostly brown and yellow garden eels. They are found in Caribbean coral reef ecosystems—like the one in the Giant Ocean Tank. They cluster their borrows together in a colony, and you'll rarely find one swimming around. Instead you can see them pop their heads and bodies out looking for detritus or plankton to eat. With a mass of swaying garden eels rooted to the sandy floor, it almost looks like grasses—thus the name, garden eel.

Each animal fits so snugly in its burrows, you might wonder how it managed to make that home. Well take a look at this video. It was taken moments after the eels were introduced to their new exhibit this summer. Watch one of them make its new home, the start of our garden eel colony!

While garden eels are found on Caribbean coral reefs just like the ecosystem inside the Giant Ocean Tank, we think these special animals deserve a closer look. Their special exhibit at the top of the tank lets you get close to these graceful and fascinating animals. Just be sure not to spook them, because they can hide in a flash!

Come by and take a look sometime. Buy your tickets in advance on our website, then you can print them at home. Just be sure to bring your camera.

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