As my wife and I headed for a forest walk in Tai Mo Shan last week, we passed a conduit, and looking down I saw a huge eel, which i think is Monopterus albus, called the Asian swamp eel in the USA, but also known as rice eel, ricefield eel or rice paddy eel.
It was huge...around 90cm long.
Then as we walked along, following it swimming in the shallow water, there was another.
I understand that this is a commercially important, air-breathing species of fish in the family Synbranchidae. It is common in Thailand and Vietnam as a key food source, and you can often find it on menus there. It has been introduced into the USA and can be considered invasive in some areas there now.
Here a close up look at the first one, with its small eyes almost at its snout.
I thought this was a very unusual sight....and maybe these eels had come down from the river and pond above the conduit and could be native to this area...but that is a big question mark.
Side note on releasing animals in the wild:
I have often found " strange" (even exotic and non-native) animals around that part of Tai Mo Shan as there is a large, active Buddhist centre (you can often hear the chanting as you pass, even late a night). And the "buddhist mercy release" programme is well known in Hong Kong, which is a despicable "for profit" trade that only benefits gangsters and immoral animal traders. The released animals are often in the wrong environment (think of goldfish in the sea), and die a slow, long lingering death. So not good for the animal, and surely bad karma for the person releasing it!
as National Geographic writes:
""This has “created a thriving industry for those who trap, trade, and sell wild animals for release, taking advantage of Buddhists’ empathy for animals,” said the Venerable Refa Shi, president of The American Buddhist Confederation of New York, in a press release issued by Humane Society International.
Buddhists from Hong Kong to France to the United States—and even non-Buddhists, especially in China—have adopted the practice, also known as fangsheng. According to Humane Society International, hundreds of millions of animals are involved each year. They range from monkeys to turtles, which symbolize longevity in Chinese culture"".
see the full article here
Did you know that in Hong Kong, according to the SCMP, just over one in five adults are Buddhists. from the SCMP: and the full article HERE is well worth a read with this interesting fact:
""In 1997, under the leadership of then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, a Buddhist, the Hong Kong government formally recognised Buddhism in Hong Kong and designated Buddha’s birthday as a public holiday, replacing the British queen’s birthday holiday.
According to the SPCA, an estimated 680,000 to 1,050,000 birds are released in Hong Kong every year"".