Council left ‘all shook up’ as stolen eel named Elvis turns up 100 miles away

Elvis the eel
Elvis the eel was disappeared from his home in Shropshire - only to appear on a North Somerset beach nearly eight months later Credit: Michelle Lucking

A carved wooden eel named Elvis washed up on a beach in Portishead nearly eight months after being stolen from a park 111 miles away.

The artwork was initially taken from Severn Valley Country Park in Shropshire on 30th June 2020 but remarkably found its way to a North Somerset beach on the weekend (February 13).

Elvis, along with another installation, was stolen from a children’s play area as part of a Canal & River Trust project called ‘Unlocking the Severn’ to teach members of the public about river wildlife and fish migration patterns.

Michelle Lucking, an artist in North Somerset, found the 4.4m eel on the beach and expressed her delight at the discovery via a Facebook post.

She said: "Fantastic update on the mysterious wooden carved eel washed up on the beach here in Portishead!

The 4.4m art installation, which serves to educate people about fish migration, travelled 111 miles before being discovered Credit: Michelle Lucking

"It was built as an awareness campaign by the Unlock the Severn project who are building passage routes for migrating Severn fish to enable them to safely navigate around the locks and weir systems further upstream.

"The wooden eel, actually 2 in total, was stolen from the park on June 30th 2020 and dumped in the river where it spent 7.5 months migrating it's way downstream over some 100 miles to land on our beach! Sadly the second eel is still missing.

"Severn Valley Country Park is delighted it's been found an are organising to collect it. The police are also involved. It's been removed from the beach now and secured safely.

Lezley Picton, the head of culture and leisure at Shropshire Council, was relieved to hear about the discovery of the artwork.

She said: "I think you could say we're 'all shook up' by this unexpected surprise.

"Council officers are now working with the finders to have Elvis safely transported back to Severn Valley Country Park after his extraordinary migration, where children will once again be able to enjoy him.

"I'd like to thank the finders of Elvis - it is truly remarkable. Hopefully we can find Elvis' sibling and reunite the pair."

Across the West Country, various mystery items and substances have recently washed up on shore including a drum of hazardous acid on a Cornwall beach.

Canal & River Trust senior project manager, Alex Ball, said: "The project is about restoring the river for fish migration.

"Clearly this piece of play equipment has made an epic journey of its own.

"We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to finding the wooden eel, sharing the story on social media, and bringing the information to the attention of the council."

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