Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Family
    Nemichthyidae
    Order
    Anguilliformes
    Class
    Actinopterygii
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    There are three known genera of Snipe Eel, <em>Avocettina</em> Jordan & Davis, 1891, <em>Labichthys</em> Gill & Ryder, 1883 and <em>Nemichthys</em> Richardson, 1848. Three species of occur off the New South Wales coast.
  • Size Range
    The Slender Snipe Eel, <em>Nemichthys scolopaceus</em>, grows up to 1.22 m in length.

Introduction

Snipe Eels (family Nemichthyidae) can be recognised by their extremely elongate bodies and long, thin, outward curving jaws. They occur in deep midwaters.

Identification

The Snipe Eels can be recognised by their extremely elongate bodies and long, thin, outward curving jaws.

Habitat

Snipe Eels occur in the deep midwaters (in the open water, not near the surface or the bottom). They have been recorded in depths down to 1830 m.

Feeding and diet

There are tiny backward-pointing teeth along both jaws. Snipe eels swim through deep ocean waters with the mouth open. When an antenna (feeler) of a crustacean enters the open jaws, it is caught on the teeth and the crustacean is "pulled" ratchet-fashion into the mouth of the snipe eel.

References

  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. Mead, G. & S. Eyrle. 1970. Notes on the Natural History of Snipe Eels. Proc Calif. Acad. Sci. 38:99-103.
  3. Nielsen, J. & D.G. Smith. 1978. The eel family Nemichthyidae (Pisces, Anguilliformes). Dana Rept. 88: 1-71, figs 1-36, pls 1-2.