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

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

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Alabes occidentalis in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/1145

Western Shore Eel, Alabes occidentalis Hutchins & Morrison 2004

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Endemic to southern Australia from Yorke Peninsula, Spencer Gulf, South Australia, to the Houtman Abrolhos, Western Australia, at depths to 37 metres. A common inhabitant of shallow seagrass and algal beds.


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 post-ocular sensory pore dorso-posterior to eye; posterior nasal pore absent; dorsal, anal and caudal fins continuous, dorsal and anal elongate, without fin rays; anal fin prominent, extending about halfway from caudal fin to anus; 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, that extend about one-third of the distance between the gill slit and the urogenital opening.


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.


The specific name if from the Latin occidentalis (= western), in reference the occurrence of this species in south Western Australia.

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. 2021


Atlas of Living Australia

Western Shore Eel, Alabes occidentalis Hutchins & Morrison 2004


Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds) The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

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 https://doi.org/10.3853/j.0067-1975.56.2004.1426

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  https://doi.org/10.5479/si.00810282.234 (as Alabes parvulus, in part - distribution only)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37206034

Depth:0-37 m

Habitat:Seagrass, algal beds

Max Size:4.4 cm TL


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