|Pelican eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides)|
The Saccopharyngiformes are an order of unusual ray-finned fish, superficially similar to eels, but with multiple internal differences. Most of the fish in this order are deep-sea types known from only a handful of specimens, such as the pelican eel. Saccopharyngiformes are also bioluminescent in several species. Some, such as the "swallowers", can live as deep as 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in the ocean, well into the aphotic zone. Saccopharyngiformes were found by deep sea fishermen's nets. Extensive research has not been conducted on them due to being indirectly observed.
Saccopharyngiforms lack several bones, such as the symplectic bone, the bones of the opercle, and ribs. They also have no scales, pelvic fins, or swim bladder. The jaws are quite large, lined with small teeth, and several types are notable for being able to consume fish larger than themselves. Their myomeres (muscle segments) are V-shaped instead of W-shaped as in all other fishes, and their lateral lines have no pores, instead being modified to groups of elevated tubules.
The four families in two suborders are:
- Suborder Cyematoidei
- Cyematidae (bobtail snipe eels)
- Suborder Saccopharyngoidei
The gulper eel eats fish, crustaceans, shrimp, and plankton. It uses its large mouth like a net by opening it and ambushing its prey. Due to the gulper eel's specialized body shape, it is a poor swimmer and relies on the luminescent organ at the tip of its tail to attract prey.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Saccopharyngiformes" in FishBase. January 2006 version.bonefish
- Enchanted Learning Gulper Eel Copyright 1999 - 2006
- The Sea - Gulper Eel J.D. Knight, Copyright 1998
- Small fish takes big bite - Caymanian Compass, 9 October 2007