Skip to main content

Description of a new snake eel, Apterichtus hatookai sp. nov. (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae), from the Pacific coast of Japan


A new species of snake eel (family Ophichthidae, subfamily Ophichthinae), Apterichtus hatookai, is described based on the 478.5 mm holotype and three paratypes, 265.0–519.4 mm in total length (TL), collected from the Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Shikoku Island and central Honshu Island, Japan. The new species can be distinguished from its congeners, except for Apterichtus monodi and Apterichtus orientalis, by having seven supratemporal pores. The new species is distinguishable from A. monodi by having a longer tail (60.4–62.0 % TL vs. 57.4–60.2 %), four preopercular pores (vs. three), fewer lateral-line pores before the anus (54–58 vs. 63–68), and fewer total vertebrae (137–141 vs. 142–151). Apterichtus hatookai differs from A. orientalis in having a shorter head (5.1–6.1 % TL vs. 7.1–8.1 %; 13.3–16.0 % of preanal length vs. 16.2–18.0 %), a longer tail (60.4–62.0 % TL vs. 54.8–56.0 %), lower body depth at gill opening (0.9–1.5 % TL vs. 1.8–1.9; 2.3–3.8 % of preanal length vs. 4.1–4.2 %), more numerous total vertebrae (137–141 vs. 131–133), and by the anterior tip of the lower jaw below the center of the eye (vs. anterior to a vertical through anterior margin of eye).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  • Blache J, Bauchot M-L (1972) Contribution à la connaissance des poissons Anguilliformes de la côte occidentale d’Afrique. 13e note: les genres Verma, Apterichthus, Ichthyapus, Hemerorhinus, Caecula, Dalophis avec la description de deux genres nouveaux (Fam. des Ophichthidae). Bull l’Inst Francais d’Afrique Noire (Sér A) Sci Nat 34:692–773

  • Böhlke JE (1968) A new species of the ophichthid eel genus Verma from the west Atlantic, with comments on related species. Notul Nat (Philad) 415:1–12

    Google Scholar 

  • Castle PHJ, McCosker JE (1999) A new genus and two new species of myrophine worm-eels, with comments on Muraenichthys and Scolecenchelys (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae). Rec Aust Mus 51:113–122

  • Duméril AMC (1806) Zoologie analytique, ou méthode naturelle de classification des animaux. Paris

  • Fricke R, Eschmeyer WN (2013) Guide to fish collections. Electronic version, updated 15 November 2013. Accessed 20 November 2013

  • Gilbert CH (1891) Description of a new species of eel (Sphagebranchus kendalli). Bull US Fish Com 9:310

    Google Scholar 

  • Jordan DS, Snyder JO (1901) A review of the apodal fishes or eels of Japan, with descriptions of nineteen new species. Proc US Natl Mus 23:837–890

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaup JJ (1856) Uebersicht der Aale. Arch Naturgesch 22:41–77

    Google Scholar 

  • Linnaeus C (1758) Systema Naturae, Ed. X (Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata). Salvius, Holmiae

  • Machida Y, Ohta S (1994) A new snake-eel, Apterichtus orientalis, from the Pacific coast of western Japan (Ophichthinae, Ophichthidae). Jpn J Ichthyol 41:1–5

    Google Scholar 

  • McCosker JE, Castle PHJ (1986) Family No. 42: Ophichthidae. In: Smith MM, Heemstra PC (eds) Smiths’ Sea Fishes. Macmillan South Africa, Johannesburg, pp 176–186

  • McCosker JE, Randall JE (2005) Notes on the snake eels of the genera Apterichtus and Ichthyapus (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) of the central and south Pacific, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 800:1–11

    Google Scholar 

  • Myers GS, Wade CB (1941) Four new genera and ten new species of eels from the Pacific coast of tropical America. Allan Hancock Pac Exp 9:65–111

    Google Scholar 

  • Peters WCH (1877) Übersicht der während der von 1874 bis 1876 unter der Commando des Hrn. Capitän z. S. Freiherrn von Schleinitz ausgeführten Reise S. M. S. Gazelle gesammelten und von der Kaiserlichen Admiralität der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften übersandten Fische. Akad Wiss Berlin 1876:831–854

  • Roux C (1966) Une nouvelle espèce de poisson apode de la famille des Ophichthidae: Caecula (Sphagebranchus) monodi sp. nov. Bull Mus Natl d’Hist Nat (Sér 2) 37:593–598

  • Smith DG, McCosker JE (1999) Ophichthidae. In: Carpenter KE, Niem VH (eds) FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. The living Marine Resources of the western central Pacific. Batoid Fishes, Chimeras and Bony Fishes Part 1 (Elopidae to Linophrynidae). FAO, Rome, pp 1662–1669

  • Snyder JO (1904) A catalogue of the shore fishes collected by the steamer “Albatross” about the Hawaiian Islands in 1902. Bull US Fish Com 22:513–538

    Google Scholar 

  • Takagi M, Hirata T, Hirata S, Nakata C (2010) Fishes of Ainan Ehime (in Japanese). Kohbunsha, Uwajima, Japan

  • Weber M (1913) Die Fische der Siboga-Expedition. E. J. Brill, Leiden

Download references


We are deeply indebted to K. Hatooka (OMNH) for providing important photographs and references, and for his valuable suggestions; T. Hirata (Ehime Prefecture), S. Ohashi (HUMZ), and T. Tamai (IDEA consultants Inc.) for collecting the type specimens and providing photographs. We express our great gratitude to J. E. McCosker (CAS) for his help with the English, discussion about the new species, and his critical comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to H. Endo, N. Nakayama, R. Asaoka, and R. Misawa (BSKU); M. J. P. van Oijen and R. de Ruiter (RMNH) for their help in the examination of the type specimens and important references; J. E. Randall and A. Suzumoto (BPBM); H. Endo (BSKU); M. Yabe, H. Imamura, and T. Kawai (HUMZ); H. Senou (KPM); K. Matsuura, G. Shinohara, and M. Nakae (NSMT); K. Hatooka (OMNH); and J. T. Williams (USNM) for their help with the loan of specimens and providing underwater photographs.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yusuke Hibino.

Additional information

This article was registered in the Official Register of Zoological Nomenclature (ZooBank) as 08B93410-4CD6-4EAB-A546-224461D4F472.

This article was published as an Online First article on the online publication date shown on this page. The article should be cited by using the doi number.

About this article

Cite this article

Hibino, Y., Shibata, Jy. & Kimura, S. Description of a new snake eel, Apterichtus hatookai sp. nov. (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae), from the Pacific coast of Japan. Ichthyol Res 61, 317–321 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Ophichthidae
  • Apterichtus
  • New species
  • Japan
  • Pacific Ocean