Animal Species:Pelican Eel, Eurypharynx pelecanoides Vaillant, 1882

The Pelican Eel has an elongate body with a luminous organ at the end of the tail. The Gulper Eel occurs in midwaters of tropical and temperate seas worldwide.

Pelican Eel, Eurypharynx pelecanoides

Robin McPhee © NORFANZ Founding Parties

Standard Common Name

Pelican Eel

Alternative Name/s

Gulper Eel

Identification

The Pelican Eel has an elongate body with a luminous organ at the end of the tail. The eyes are tiny and close to the snout. There are several rows of small teeth in the massive jaws. The species is black, sometimes with a white line or groove on either side of the dorsal fin. The Pelican Eel is the only species in the family Eurypharyngidae.

Size range

The species grows to 80 cm in length.

Distribution

The Pelican Eel occurs in midwaters of tropical and temperate seas worldwide. In Australian waters, this species is known from off north-western Western Australia, northern Queensland and 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.

Eurypharynx pelecanoides

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Pelican Eel specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Habitat

It has been recorded from depths of 500 m to 3000 m.

Feeding and Diet

Its major food items are crustaceans, but it also feeds on fishes, cephalopods and other invertebrates. It is believed to ingest its prey along with a quantity of water that is expelled through the gill openings.

Life cycle

At maturity males undergo changes that include an enlargement of the olfactory organs and degeneration of the teeth and jaws. Females remain relatively unchanged.

Classification

Species:
pelecanoides
Genus:
Eurypharynx
Family:
Eurypharyngidae
Order:
Saccopharyngiformes
Class:
Actinopterygii
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Smith, D. G. 1999. Eurypharyngidae. in Carpenter, K.E. & V.H. Niem (Eds). FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes. The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. Volume 3. Batoid fishes, chimaeras and bony fishes part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome. Pp. iii-vi, 1398-2068.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Pelican Eel, Eurypharynx pelecanoides, Eurypharyngidae, Gulper Eel, 30 cm - 1 m, luminous tail, small teeth, massive jaw, odd-shaped, tropical water, temperate water, black, marine,