Wolf eel

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Wolf eel
February 2, 2012 Wolf Eel (really a fish!) in Puget Sound (6842178290).jpg
Wolf eel in Puget Sound
Scientific classification

Ayres, 1855
A. ocellatus
Binomial name
Anarrhichthys ocellatus
Ayres, 1855

The wolf eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus) is a species of wolffish (Anarhichadidae) from the North Pacific.[1] It is monotypic within the genus Anarrhichthys and one of only two genera in the family, the other being Anarhichas.[2]


A. ocellatus differs from true eels, because it has paired gill slits and pectoral fins. The animal can grow to 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) in length and 18.4 kg (41 lb) in weight.[1] Unlike the grayish adults, the young are orange.[3] The wolf eel usually lives for about 25 years.[citation needed]


A. ocellatus is found in caves, crevices and rocky reefs from shallow waters to a depth of 226 m (741 ft), ranging from the Sea of Japan and the Bering Sea to Northern California.[1]


A small juvenile wolf eel
A pair of wolf eel with eggs (pale yellowish)

Large wolf eels are curious[4] and are rarely aggressive, but are capable of inflicting painful bites on humans.[1] The male and female may pair for life and inhabit a cave together; the two watch their eggs together and one always stays behind when the other leaves to feed.[1][3]

This eel-like fish feeds on crustaceans, sea urchins, mussels, clams and some fishes, crushing them with its strong jaws.

As food[edit]

The wolf eel has edible, sweet and savoury white flesh. In some coastal northwest Native American tribes, the wolf eel was referred to as the sacred "doctorfish". Only the tribal healers were allowed to eat this fish, as it was supposed to enhance their healing powers.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2016). "Anarrhichthys ocellatus" in FishBase. November 2016 version.
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2016). "Anarhichadidae" in FishBase. November 2016 version.
  3. ^ a b c Sempier, S. (2003). Wolf Eel at the Wayback Machine (archived July 20, 2011) Marine Species with Aquaculture Potential.
  4. ^ http://www.oceanlink.info/biodiversity/wolfeel.html

External links[edit]

  • "Wolf Eel in Focus".
  • "When Wolf Eels Attack".
  • "The Wolf Eel".