Slender Snipe Eel
Worldwide in tropical to temperate latitudes
Open ocean (mesopelagic to bathypelagic)
Order Anguilliformes (eels), Family Nemichthyidae (snipe eels)
The slender snipe eel is an active predator that feeds on pelagic crustaceans in the dark of the deep ocean. Its behaviors are not well understood, but scientists believe it captures its prey by swimming with its mouth open and slashing its head and “beak” side to side when it senses nearby prey. Larger fishes, including some shallow water species that dive to feed (e.g., some tunas), eat slender snipe eels.
This species reproduces via broadcast spawning, a process by which females release their eggs and males release their sperm into the water column at the same time. Scientists believe that individuals of this species only spawn once and then die, a life history strategy characteristic of the Pacific salmons, freshwater eels, and some other species as well. As the slender snipe eel is difficult to study in its natural environment and only occasionally captured by scientists, it is not currently known if this species spawns in groups or in pairs.
The conservation status of the slender snipe eel is not known, but it is likely naturally rare. It is not targeted for human use and is rarely captured in fisheries targeting other species. However, as commercial fishers fish deeper and deeper, targeting new species of fishes and invertebrates, it is possible that the slender snipe eel could be more regularly affected by these activities. Therefore, it is important to continue to study this and similar species, in order to determine population trends and learn more about the life history of species in the deep sea.
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