The Sumida Aquarium is located in Tokyo. The most populous city and the capital, it's home to a variety of aquatic animals. Among them are penguins, jellyfish, and seals. But it's another type of animal that the aquarium seems particularly concerned about lately.

Like other venues around the world, the Sumida Aquarium has closed down because of COVID-19. Hallways and viewing areas that would normally be filled with visitors have been emptied. And it could be having an effect on the aquarium's garden eels.

Might be forgetting people exist

According to NBC, aquarium officials are worried its garden eels have been forgetting about people.

That is, that people exist. Which could be a big problem for when the aquarium would be opened back up to the public.

Garden eels are well-known to be shy creatures. But ones that live in domestic venues tend to get used to people being around them. CNN reports these garden eels have started going into hiding when humans come around. Without the regular crowds visiting, the eels seem to have forgotten what it's like to be near them.

It's not necessarily a bad thing for animals in the wild to be uncomfortable to be around people. But in an environment like the Sumida Aquarium, it presents a number of problems. One of them is fairly obvious. Visitors wouldn't be able to appreciate and enjoy them the same way if they're always hiding.

Another one, is that staff have a much more difficult time checking on the eels.

A unique plan has been put in place to re-acclimate the eels to visitors. Several screens around the tank would be temporarily used for what's been labeled a 'Face Show Festival'. People could FaceTime the eels from home.

In theory, the oceanic creatures could get used to seeing so many faces again. Volunteers on the other end of the connection could watch the eels' daily activities. Including swimming and eating.

Garden eels' name comes from their burrowing behavior

The scientific name for garden eels is heterocongrinae.

They're closely related to conger eels. But they tend to be smaller and less aggressive than their cousins. The smaller of the two also usually group together in colonies.

Garden eels often burrow their bodies under sand on the ocean floor but will often stick their heads out from underneath. When several members of a colony do this at once, it can resemble plants growing from the ground.

Large colonies could take up an area in excess of one acre. Most garden eels don't grow beyond two feet in length. But the biggest of them have been known to grow to about twice this size. Most garden eels in the wild can be found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. But, some have also been found in the Atlantic Ocean in areas such as the Caribbean Sea.

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