James McCleave, a University of Maine professor emeritus of marine sciences and a leading expert on eels, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for an article about Maine’s elver industry. McCleave, who has spent the last 40 years studying eels, said he has seen eels go from being considered a food source for humans, to fish bait, and now an expensive export while in their early stages as elvers. McCleave also spoke about the “muddy” flavor of wild eels. He said the eels’ natural fattiness makes it easy for them to retain toxins. “Eels in the wild that are 10 years old have been out there collecting nasties for 10 years,” he said.