Animal Species:Harlequin Snake Eel, Myrichthys colubrinus (Boddaert, 1781)

The Harlequin Snake Eel can be recognised by its long slender body and colouration. It occurs in marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific.

Harlequin Snake Eel at Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef

Andrew Donnelly © Andrew Donnelly

Standard Common Name

Harlequin Snake Eel

Identification

The Harlequin Snake Eel can be recognised by its long slender body and colouration. It is white with 25 to 32 black bands that encircle the body. As a fish ages, black spots may develop between the rings.

Size range

It grows to about 90 cm in length.

Distribution

It occurs in marine waters of the Indo-West and Central Pacific. In Australia it is known from the south-western coast of Western Australia, around the tropical north and south on the east coast to northern New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Myrichthys colubrinus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Harlequin Snake Eel specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

The Harlequin Snake Eel is a burrowing species that lives in sandy areas of coral reefs and inshore waters.

Classification

Species:
colubrinus
Genus:
Myrichthys
Family:
Ophichthidae
Order:
Anguilliformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
  2. Allen, G.R. & R. Swainston. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 201.
  3. Hoese, D.F., Bray, D.J., Paxton, J.R. & G.R. Allen. 2006. Fishes. In Beesley, P.L. & A. Wells. (eds) Zoological Catalogue of Australia. Volume 35. ABRS & CSIRO Publishing: Australia. parts 1-3, pages 1-2178.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  5. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.

 


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Ichthyology, Fishes, Harlequin Snake Eel, Myrichthys colubrinus, Ophichthidae, eel, marine, long and skinny, strips or bands, stripes or bands, 30 cm - 1 m, tropical water, coral reef, inshore water,