Western Shore Eel, Alabes occidentalis Hutchins & Morrison 2004

Paratype of the Western Shore-eel, Alabes occidentalis, from Israelite Bay, Western Australia, female, WAM P.28280-001, 35 mm SL. Source: Barry Hutchins / Western Australian Museum. License: All rights reserved


A transparent shore eel with the internal organs usually clearly visible, with a row of brownish blotches on the dorsal fin, and the head spotted or unspotted. Males usually have a tiger-like pattern of reddish to brownish bars along the side, and on the body in larger individuals, merging ventrally with 2–3 blackish blotches.

The Western Shore Eel is common in seagrass beds in south Western Australia.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Alabes occidentalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 Nov 2020,

Western Shore Eel, Alabes occidentalis Hutchins & Morrison 2004

More Info


Endemic to southern Australia from Twilight Cove in the Great Australian Bight to the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, in depths to 37 metres. A common inhabitant of shallow seagrass beds of south Western Australia.


Caudal fin 4-6; Vertebrae (total) 65-69.
Body very elongate, moderately compressed; head very short; eyes small; mouth small;  gill opening a small slit on underside of head, its width less than eye diameter; single sensory pore dorso-posterior to eye; dorsal, anal and caudal fins continuous, dorsal and anal elongate, without fin rays; pelvic fin rudiment absent.


Completely transparent with internal organs usually clearly visible; a row of brownish blotches on dorsal fin; head spotted or unspotted, male usually with a tiger-like pattern of reddish to brownish bars on side, continued on body in larger individuals, merging ventrally with 2-3 blackish blotches.


Male: body mostly translucent to transparent, with organs visible through skin, although abdominal portion becoming more milky coloured anteriorly with a tiger-like pattern of brownish orange bars, distinctly darker ventrally, bars extending less than half distance to urogenital opening; head brown, consisting of dark brown blotches below and behind eye; silvery white spot at rear of body (not always visible); dorsal fin with dusky blotches along length, fading posteriorly (usually no dusky bars on dorsal surface of back).
Female: body transparent, with all organs visible through skin; no tiger-like pattern of bars anteriorly although numerous short, darkbrown bars present across ventral and dorsal surfaces of abdomen; head mostly transparent with several short, dark bars and spots below eye; dusky blotches on dorsal fin and silvery white spot on rear of body as in male.

Species Citation

Alabes occidentalis Hutchins & Morrison, 2004, Rec. Aust. Mus. 56: 153, fig. 4. Type locality: Safety Bay, Seal Island, Western Australia [32°17.4'S, 115°41.1'E].


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Western Shore Eel, Alabes occidentalis Hutchins & Morrison 2004


Hutchins, J.B. 1991. Southern Australia’s enigmatic clingfishes. Australian Natural History 23(8): 626–633.

Hutchins, J.B. 1994. Family Gobiesocidae. pp. 305-324, figs 269-289 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. (as Alabes parvulus, in part - distribution only)

Hutchins, J.B. 2008. Family Gobiesocidae. pp. 722-741 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

Hutchins, B. & Morrison, S. 2004. Five new fish species of the genus Alabes (Gobiesocidae: Cheilobranchinae). Records of the Australian Museum 56: 147-158 DOI 10.3853/j.0067-1975.56.2004.1426 Open access

Springer, V.G. & Fraser, T.H. 1976. Synonymy of the fish families Cheilobranchidae (=Alabetidae) and Gobiesocidae, with descriptions of two new species of Alabes. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 234: 1-23 figs 1-14  DOI: https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.234Open access  (as Alabes parvulus, in part - distribution only)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37206034

Depth:0-37 m

Habitat:Seagrass beds

Max Size:4.4 cm TL


Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map