Animal Species:Common Shore Eel, Alabes dorsalis (Richardson, 1845)

The Common Shore Eel is an elongate fish with a small head. Despite its standard name, it is not an eel. It is a temperate marine species that is endemic to Australia.

Common Shore Eel, Alabes dorsalis

Common Shore Eel, Alabes dorsalis
Photographer: Kevin Conway © Kevin Conway

Standard Common Name

Common Shore Eel

Alternative Name/s

Red-banded Shore Eel, Shore Eel, Striped Brown Shore Eel


The Common Shore Eel is an elongate fish with a small head and a narrow gill slit on the underside of the head. The continuous dorsal, anal and caudal fins lack fin rays. There are no scales or lateral line. The fish is usually brown, greenish or orange, often with large black blotches on the sides of the body. The Common Shore Eel is not related to the eels. It is actually a member of the family Gobiesocidae and is related to the Clingfishes.

Size range

The species grows to about 12 cm in length.


The species is endemic to Australia, occurring from southern Queensland to South Australia, including Tasmania.

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

Alabes dorsalis

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Common Shore Eel specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?


The Common Shore Eel is a temperate marine species that occurs in rocky reefs and inshore waters. It is commonly encountered in rockpools in Victoria and Tasmania.



What does this mean?


  1. 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.
  2. Hutchins, J.B. Family Gobiesocidae. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  3. Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. Pp. 180.
  4. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags Fishes, Ichthyology, Common Shore Eel, Alabes dorsalis, Gobiesocidae, elongate, small head, temperate water, marine, endemic to Australia, Red-banded Shore Eel, Shore Eel, Striped Brown Shore Eel, no scales, brown, green, orange, black blotches, blotches/mottled, not related to eel, Clingfish, 10 cm - 30 cm, rocky reef, inshore water,