The occurrence of elvers of Synaphobranchus affinis on the continental slope off North Carolina

Charles A. Wenner, Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Members of the family Synaphobranchidae are demersal eels which are widely distributed in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans (Castle 1964). Data from a June 1973 cruise in the Norfolk Canyon area indicate that they are an important part of the fish community in both numbers and biomass in depths around 1,000 m (Virginia Institute of Marine Science unpubl. data). Bruun (1937) reported on the life histories and larval development of several synaphobranchids, and Castle (1964) listed synonomies in addition to keys to genera and species. Robins (1971) gave osteological, meristic, and morphometric data and also discussed the life history and ecology (Robins 1968).

Although Robins (1971) intensively examined 46 Synaphobranchus ajfinis Gunter 1877 greater than 193 mm in total length, the occurrence of elvers or unpigmented juveniles of this species is unreported. The purpose of this report is to provide a record of capture, meristic and morphometric data, and some observations in food habits of S. ajfinis elvers.