As its standard name implies, this largely tropical species is spotted. What it doesn't convey is that the spots change with age.
The Ocellate Snake Eel has dark spots on a cream-coloured background. The arrangement of spots changes as a fish grows. Juveniles under 25 cm in length have one row of spots on the upper sides. Fish between 30 cm and 50 cm in length (such as that in the images) have spots along the midline alternating with spots on the upper sides. Fishes over 50cm in length have two or three rows of spots on the upper sides of the body and several rows of smaller spots along the lower surface.
The Ocellate Snake Eel occurs on sandy coastal reefs where it burrows in the substrate. It is sometimes seen swimming in the open over sand or weedy areas.
It occurs in marine tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific.
In Australia it is recorded from the offshore reefs of north-western Western Australia and the northern Great Barrier Reef south to the central coast of 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.
- Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Western Australian Museum. Pp. 292.
- Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
- Michael, S.W. 1998. Reef Fishes. Volume 1. A Guide to Their Identification, Behaviour, and Captive Care. Microcosm. Pp. 624.
- Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.