Dan Rattiner's Stories

EelMail: Does the Great Ecuadorian Eel Have a Son in Australia?

Below are a series of emails back and forth during the last six weeks between Dan Rattiner, Editor-in-Chief of Dan’s Papers, and Tim Whitaker of Ecoeel.com.au, in Griffith, Australia.

As I am sure you are aware, the Hamptons has once again been the winter home for the huge electric blue eel that swims up to northern climates for three months every year.

The Great Ecuadorian Eel (GEE), all 40 feet of him, has been here since early January, mostly residing under the ice of Mill Pond in Water Mill. Although he has crashed up through the ice and swallowed people and certain dogs during his stay, no one can harm him because of his endangered species status. Anyway, we are all holding our breath because he will likely be leaving us, as he has done before, in late March. (He was last here in 2003.)

Tim Whitaker <tim@ecoeel.com.au>
Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 2:47 AM
To: dan@danspapers.com

Hello Dan,

I believe we may have come across an offspring of the Great Ecuadorian Eel Down Under. There have been several sightings of a large eel in the main irrigation canal of Griffith. Griffith is a regional town in South West NSW Australia, it is mainly a desert area but, with extensive irrigation canals, is one of Australia’s main food and wine production areas.

The locals have called it the Yoogali Eel as it was first seen in the irrigation canals that run through this little village. No one knows how the Yoogali Eel got to Griffith as it is not an area that the Australian Eels (Anguilla australis) populate, the sightings started after substantial flooding that occurred in 2012 and it is believed that the large volumes of water coming down the inland river systems brought the Yoogali Eel to the area.

Although not as large as the Great Ecuadorian Eel, some locals who have spotted Yoogali have estimated its size to be between 18 to 20 feet in length. When shown a picture of the Great Ecuadorian Eel they say there is a striking resemblance. It appears to be feasting on the European Carp, an introduced pest that heavily infest the canals in the area, because large piles of carp bones are seen regularly on the banks of the main canal.

Each Easter the locals celebrate La Festa which offers a full program of live music and entertainment, regional food and produce, and an abundance of children’s amusements. One of the popular events of La Festa is the many sculptures made out of oranges that line the main street, each sculpture is designed and erected by local businesses and organisations. The Yoogali Eel is expected to feature in this year’s orange street sculptures.

The local newspaper the Area News has more information on the Yoogali Eel and the editor Monique Patterson can be contacted on this email editor@areanews.com.au. It would be great to establish a link with the Great Ecuadorian Eel and the Yoogali Eel to gain more understanding of these amazing creatures.


Tim Whitaker

daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 8:01 AM
To: Tim Whitaker <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

A few things. Is this anywhere near Augusta? Augusta, south of Perth, is the location on the earth where if you bored straight down from Southampton, NY you would come out. I’m not suggesting the eels did this, just saying…

I see no reason why the GEE would not grow to 40 feet long, which ours is. I suspect there was a time, around 1985, when our Great Ecuadorian Eel was only 20 feet, I think.

What color is your eel? Ours is electric blue.

Do you have a picture or sketch?

Are the orange sculptures painted orange or made from oranges?


Dan Rattiner
Dan’s Papers

Tim Whitaker <tim@ecoeel.com.au>
Sat, Jan 24, 2015 at 10:54 AM
To: daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>

Griffith is a long way from Augusta, not sure where you would come out if you bored straight down but my guess would be somewhere in Chile. I think the Yoogali Eel is a juvenile GEE as it is a greenish colour and sometimes small flashes of blue have been seen just below the eye sockets. No one has taken a photo as yet but I have been told it looks like this eel like creature that was captured by fisherman off the Victorian coast.

The orange sculptures are made out of oranges as they are grown in large quantities in the area here is an example

This is a picture of a half eaten European carp, it is believed that the Yoogali was interrupted before it could complete its meal


daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 9:07 AM
To: Tim Whitaker <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

any news? We’ve had temperatures about 0 degrees fahrenheit. our eel keeps bumping his head against the underside of iced-over ponds. we are concerned about him.

Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>
Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 9:31 AM
To: drattiner2@gmail.com

The temperature in Griffith has been pushing 40c. Word has it the Yoogali Eel has taken a liking to Salami, not just any Salami, the hot and spicey home made ones which are much loved by the large Italian population in the area. It appears there is a competition to see which Salami will be favoured by the Yoogali and families are lining the banks of the canals waving their prized Salami at the great Eel. The Yoogali has been seen to patrol up and down the canals sniffing the spicey sausages as he goes past. When he selects his favoured one he will raise his large head and gently pluck it from the grasp of an excited local who will immediatly rejoice and brag to anyone who will listen that they have been blessed and that they have the best Salami. The Yoogali then slips silently below the flowing water to slowly devour the spicey sausage.

daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 11:32 AM
To: Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

Could I send him a made in u s a salami?

Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>
Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 5:09 PM
To: drattiner2@gmail.com

Of course, I cannot guarantee that the Yoogali will take your Salami though. There is stiff opposition.

daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 11:07 PM
To: Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

from who? I don’t understand who would provide stiff opposition.

Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>
Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 5:33 AM
To: drattiner2@gmail.com

Salami making in Griffith is taken very seriously. The Italians pride themselves on making the best salami and having one taken by Yoogali is a great honour. As an outsider you would have to be so much better in the sausage making department to get a look in. Not saying that you dont make a good salami, the local italians would provide the stiff opposition.

daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 10:04 AM
To: Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

America is known as a melting pot, particularly in ny. So you got Italians. How about Poles, Germans or Austrians? Or Portuguese, Spanish or Hungarian? We have sausage made here by all people from those places. I’m thinking we could send you some made by a member of a group you ain’t got. Name away. Also it would be a Yoogali experiment.

Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>
Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 3:21 PM
To: drattiner2@gmail.com

I am thinking Portuguese would be good. You may think of boring a hole in the ice and lowering your best Portuguese sausage down to the great Ecuadorian Eel and see what sort of reaction you may get. If favourable you may be on a winner. I am fairly sure there are not many Portugese in Griffith so you should have little competition. You may also think of making the Sausage using European Carp which could give you an edge.

daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Sat, Feb 14, 2015 at 5:00 PM
To: Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

Well give it a go

daniel rattiner <drattiner2@gmail.com>
Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 9:38 PM
To: Tim <tim@ecoeel.com.au>

This feeding of the Portuguese salami to the Great Ecuadorian Eel resulted in a horrible disaster.

We chopped a hole in the ice and Piero Mendalo, a butcher who lives in our local Portuguese community and makes salami walked out onto the ice, dangled a three foot salami from his hand over the hole and wham!, the eel leaped up and pulled not only the salami but Piero’s arm down into the hole, ripping it right out of its socket.

Spurting blood, Piero dove in after his arm, and after ten minutes under the ice, came back up covered in blood and holding what he thought was his right arm back in its socket, but which turned out under the blood to be his salami. So he dove back in and ten minutes later, even more bloody than before, came back up holding his right arm back into its socket with his left hand and the long sausage wrapped around his neck like a thick necklace. He was helicoptered out from the Mill Pond by rescue chopper which took him and his salami and a team of paramedics to the Stony Brook University Hospital fifteen minutes away where, right there on the landing pad in the -15 degree windchill weather, with the salami, doctors stitched the arm back into place. They didn’t need an anaesthetic because Piero was already numb from both his swim and from exposure to the cold air. Currently, his condition in the hospital is serious, but he is expected to recover. The salami, however, died.

It’s stories like this that make the Hamptons the world renowned resort that it is today.

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