• 2023.11.28
  • The white ghost
A pure white eel appeared in the south of Portugal at Porto Covo. Normally, this cousin of the moray eel is native to the western Pacific, the western Indian Ocean, and the Ryukyu Islands. It can grow up to 103 centimeters long and is white from head to tail. It’s not a case of albinism, apparently, but rather a spontaneous unpigmented mutation.
The scientific name for the eel is Pseudechidna brummeri, and common names include “Brummer moray eel,” “white ribbon eel,” and “ghost eel.”
The way it looks swaying elegantly through the water immediately calls to mind a flowing white ribbon. It’s a name that makes it easy to picture how beautiful it is.
But if I imagine myself encountering a long white creature while I’m swimming in the ocean, the name “ghost eel” is probably more fitting.

The people of Japan (and the rest of Asia) have long associated white animals with good luck. White tigers, white snakes, and snow owls come to mind, for example. A symbolic white animal in the West is the white dove, representing peace.
White animals may be rare and considered sacred, but the fact that we see them so infrequently also makes them seem a bit strange and creepy.

I picked up scuba diving when I was twelve years old living in Cuba. But because I didn’t have the proper gear, I had quite a few experiences that were more like survival diving.

Though I did have countless precious experiences—feeling like I had turned into sea foam, feeling like I had dissolved into the mysteries of the ocean, even moments where I was sure I was going to die—I think the real beauty of diving is that you can take your time observing the creatures of the sea. It was when swimming with colorful fish in total silence that I felt like a mermaid floating through the water.

If I had encountered a white eel in that moment of self-absorption, I’m not sure if I would have cheerfully greeted my new white-ribbon friend. Rather than feeling fortunate at the sighting, it’s more likely that I would have been snapped back to reality from the chills running down my spine. If it were me, anyway.
So I vote for the “ghost eel” name, and politely request that it not set up camp in Portugal!

In October, Bobi died—officially making history as the oldest dog in the world. He was around 31 years old, which is equivalent to more than 200 human years.
A lot of my friends’ pets also died past the age of fifteen recently.
I think when I was a child thinking about life, dogs only lived for around 12 years and cats around 14. So I guess humans aren’t the only creatures that can live into old age. When I saw Bobi on the news, he was still walking around despite his advanced age. He lived a peaceful life typical of the Alentejo Region, and I figure he must have been a happy dog.
But just living a long life rarely guarantees that you’ll have a full one, right? It must be awful to not be able to live normally—whether you’re an animal or a human.
For every person whose life is tragically cut short, there are many others who are sick and bedridden, unable to do anything.
The world is becoming more health-conscious, yet I’m becoming less clear about the goal of staying healthy. Is it to try to live a little longer? Or to prepare for an inevitable old age?
Either way, my lifespan is not something that’s under my control. Longevity sure is a strange thing.


  • Megumi Ota
  • AgeCow( USHI )
  • GenderFemale
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

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