Many aspects of the typically 5000–10,000 km spawning migration of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) remain unknown. As part of this migration, eels undertake extensive diurnal vertical migrations to depths below 1000 m, being exposed to a wide range of temperatures and hydrostatic pressures. In this experimental study, we exposed eels to different combinations of temperature (12–20°C) and pressure (100--800 kPa) during long-term sustained swimming (32–47 days). Both temperature and pressure affected oxygen consumption rate, such that there was a significant increase of metabolic rate with temperature, whereas pressure reduced oxygen consumption, albeit only at higher temperatures. Average oxygen consumption rates ranged between 15 mg kg−1 h−1 (12°C, 100 kPa) and 30.2 mg kg−1 h−1 (20°C, 100 kPa), highlighting the remarkably high swimming efficiency of this species and, more importantly, indicating that past evaluations of the cost of transport are potentially overestimates as they are often based on experiments conducted at atmospheric pressure at higher temperatures.

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