Friday, December 9, 2011

Bob the eel goes to the vet

CENTRAL WHARF, Thursday, Dec. 8 — Bob is elderly and has not been feeling well. His appetite has been waning, and he has been markedly more cranky. His caregivers reluctantly have decided to make a diagnostic medical intervention. You might say he is feeling a little green about the gills, except he really is green about the gills – a bright electric green in fact. Bob is a large green moray eel who is a resident of the New England Aquarium’s Giant Ocean Tank since the mid-1990’s.

Thursday morning, Dec. 8, Aquarium divers wrangled all five feet of Bob from his favorite hide-out in the coral reef and gently placed him in a nylon bag for transport to the Aquarium Medical Center, where he underwent an endoscopy of his gastrointestinal tract in the hope that it will yield some clues as to the cause of his hunger strike. (Learn more about eel medical exams here.) Aquarium veterinarians inserted a slender scope equipped with a tiny video camera into the eel’s mouth and worked its way into his body cavity. The medical procedure used the same technology and techniques as used in human medicine and can be seen by Aquarium visitors. Medical procedures on moray eels are uncommon even for a major aquarium.

Bob's procedure caught the eye of local media (Channel 5 and The Boston Globe). But this is not his first time in the spotlight, he also swam his way into a Divers Blog post. The veterinarians did not find anything unusual during the medical exam, though several tests are still pending. It could be that Bob is just not that hungry. The divers will continue to keep a close eye on this long-time resident of the GOT.

Bob has an interesting back story. He came to the Aquarium in the mid-1990’s as a refugee from a bar in Maine! Bob is a poster boy as to why exotic animals do not make good pets. Eventually, most such animals become too large, too expensive or too dangerous for non-professionals to keep. When Aquarium divers drove to Maine to get the moray, their vehicle broke down in an unexpected snowstorm. Two kind Mainers named Bob and Bob helped get the Aquarium staff and their unusual cargo back to Boston. In honor of their help, the moray was named Bob.