London - They’re slippery things, managing to elude British menus for years as their numbers have nose-dived. But this season has seen a bumper harvest of baby eels - the biggest haul for 30 years.
Also known as elvers or glass eels, the transparent fish look like worms, but because of their scarcity they have been as pricey as caviar at £4 (about R50) for 20g.
They became a delicacy in the Far East in the Eighties and in Japan they have at times been more expensive than gold.
Now, thanks to a ten-fold rise in stocks in the Severn in Gloucestershire, the price has fallen to just £1.70. So elvers are back on restaurant menus.
Eels have been considered to be an endangered species in Britain and Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay stopped selling them.
But with the latest surge in numbers, you can try Ramsay’s recipe for elvers on toast - covered in flour and mustard and cooked with shallots and garlic.
No one knows why there are so many elvers - 100 million so far - though there is speculation that shifting water currents brought more into the river.
Eels live for up to 30 years. They start life as a leaf-shaped larvae in the Sargasso Sea in the middle of the North Atlantic before migrating to the rivers of Europe to feed.
Once in coastal waters, they slim down, becoming tiny and transparent elvers, and travel upstream to fresh water. They then become known as yellow eels because of the colouring of their bellies.
Returning to the sea to reproduce, they undergo a final transformation to silver eels, as their eyes enlarge and their scales change in texture and colour.
Once they have spawned, they die. And then the cycle begins all over again. - Daily Mail