Alternate Title

Distribution and Ecology of the Synaphobranchidae of the Gulf of Mexico

Document Type



Synaphobranchid eels of the Gulf of Mexico are an important part of the upper continental slope ichthyofauna, occurring most frequently between 500 and 1,500 m. Two of the four known genera (Histiobranchus and Diastobranchus) have not been reported from the Gulf. Synaphobranchidae tend to occur within a narrow range of temperatures compared to the North Atlantic synaphobranchid eels. However, distribution of these eels in the deeper parts of the Gulf appears to be correlated more to change in depth than to temperature, salinity, or dissolved oxygen. The distribution at the shallower limits of their depth range appear to be a result of synergistic effects of the dissolved oxygen demand and the change in temperature. The synaphobranchid eels' apparent preferences for particular types of substrata are probably associated with the organisms preyed on rather than direct selection of bottom type by the eels. These eels are opportunistic feeders, feeding primarily on fish, squid, and crustaceans. Synaphobranchidae are frequently infested with parasites, but there do not appear to be any serious abnormal morphological results.

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