Animal Species:Snipe Eels, Family Nemichthyidae
Snipe Eels (family Nemichthyidae) can be recognised by their extremely elongate bodies and long, thin, outward curving jaws. They occur in deep midwaters.
Standard Common Name
Number of species
There are three known genera of Snipe Eel, Avocettina Jordan & Davis, 1891, Labichthys Gill & Ryder, 1883 and Nemichthys Richardson, 1848. Three species of occur off the New South Wales coast.
The Snipe Eels can be recognised by their extremely elongate bodies and long, thin, outward curving jaws.
The Slender Snipe Eel, Nemichthys scolopaceus, grows up to 1.22 m in length.
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.
- 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.
- Mead, G. & S. Eyrle. 1970. Notes on the Natural History of Snipe Eels. Proc Calif. Acad. Sci. 38:99-103.
- Nielsen, J. & D.G. Smith. 1978. The eel family Nemichthyidae (Pisces, Anguilliformes). Dana Rept. 88: 1-71, figs 1-36, pls 1-2.
Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology