Japanese Aquarium Asks People to Video-Call Its Eels During Coronavirus Lockdown

Staff at a Tokyo aquarium have appealed to the general public to help them keep their garden eels accustomed to humans by video-calling the marine creatures during the current Covid-19 pandemic, when the venue is closed.

The coronavirus pandemic has already affected the way we live, but it’s apparently taking a toll on aquarium eels as well, particularly the ones at the Sumida Aquarium, in Tokyo, which have reportedly started to forget what humans look like after the place closed down in March. Aquarium staff took to social media to report that their once sociable garden eels have started hiding in the sand when any of the few keepers walk by their tank, which suggests that they are starting to forget what humans look like.

Photo: Maksim Shutov/Unsplash

Under normal circumstances, the 300 garden eels – named so for their grass like look when they poke their heads out of the sandy seabed en-masse – at Sumida Aquarium were so accustomed to having humans around them that they didn’t retreat in the sand at the sight of them, but the long isolation period has changed that, and the human staff is asking for help to keep the eels from forgetting about humans completely.

“They don’t see humans, except keepers, and they have started forgetting about humans. Garden eels in particular disappear into the sand and hide every time the keepers pass by,” the staff tweeted. “Here is an urgent request: could you show your face to our garden eels from your home?”

It might sound like a joke, but the aquarium is actually setting up five tablets facing the eels’ tank, with people able to connect with them via FaceTime. Unfortunately, that means Android device users have no way to connect with the eels.

When connected, people have been asked to show their faces to the eels as much as possible, wave to them as they would if they were visiting the aquarium in person, but keep their voices down so they don’t startle the shy creatures.

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