Saddled Snake Eel, Leiuranus semicinctus (Lay & Bennett 1839)


Other Names: Banded Snake Eel, Culverin, Halfbanded Snake-eel

A Saddled Snake Eel, Leiuranus semicinctus, at the Meyer Islets, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand, depth 24m, Mar 2013. Source: Irene Middleton / iNaturalist.org. License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial

Summary:
A distinctly banded white to pale yellowish snake eel usually with 22-30 evenly-spaced dark saddles along the body that are equal in width or wider than pale interspaces, and do not extend to the ventral midline (except those on the rear of the tail). The species has a stiff pointed tail, and the dorsal fin originates above or just behind the gill opening.
Video of a Saddled Snake Eel in New Caledonia, 2011, depth 1 m.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2021, Leiuranus semicinctus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 22 Feb 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/2896

Saddled Snake Eel, Leiuranus semicinctus (Lay & Bennett 1839)

More Info


Distribution

Ningaloo Reef and offshore reefs of NW Western Australia, Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea, the Northern Territory, and the far northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and reefs in the Coral Sea to Julian Rocks, New South Wales; also Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea. Elsewhere the species occurs in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits sandy areas and seagrass beds of both lagoon and seaward reefs, and is sometimes seen foraging for prey during the day.

Features

Vertebrae 162-171.
Head length 12-15 in TL; body depth 35-60 in TL; preanal length 2.1-2.3 in TL; snout pointed, mouth inferior, upper lip not fringed with cirri; anterior nostrils lacking conspicuous leaf-like appendages; eye relatively large, positioned above middle of gape; intermaxilla with about five nearly recumbent, small canine teeth in ventral groove beneath snout; remaining teeth in jaws small and uniserial; vomer with 0-3 small teeth.
Dorsal fin origin above or slightly posterior to gill opening; pectoral fins reduced, about the size of the gill opening.

Colour

Whitish to pale yellow with 22–30 broad, black saddle-like bars along the body, width of saddles equal to or greater than width of pale interspaces; only saddles on rear of tail extending to ventral midline.

Feeding

Feeds on bottom-dwelling fishes and crustaceans.

Remarks

When threatened, the Saddled Snake Eel rapidly burrows backwards into the sand with its stiff pointed tail.

Similar Species

Differs from similar species in having evenly-spaced dark saddles along the body, an inferior mouth, a small pectoral fin about the size of the gill opening, the dorsal-fin originating above the gill opening, and 0-3 vomerine teeth in a medial row.

Etymology

The specific name semicinctus is from the Latin semi (= half) and cinctus (= girdle, belt) in reference to the dark saddles along the body that do not reach the ventral midline: “fascia-like patches of dark-brown, which do not surround the body, but are interrupted on the under surface” (Lay & Bennett 1839).

Species Citation

Ophisurus semicinctus Lay & Bennett  1839, The Zoology of Captain Beechey's voyage: 66, pl.20 (fig.4). Type locality: Oahu? Hawaiian Islands.

Author

Bray, D.J. 2021

Resources

Atlas of Living Australia

Saddled Snake Eel, Leiuranus semicinctus (Lay & Bennett 1839)

References


Allen, G.R. 1993. Fishes of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 44: 67-91 

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Russell, B.C. 1986. Part VII Fishes. pp. 79-103 in Berry, P.F. (ed.). Faunal Surveys of the Rowley Shoals, Scott Reef and Seringapatam Reef, northwestern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 25: 1-106 

Allen, G.R. & Smith-Vaniz, W.F. 1994. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin 412: 21 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1988. Fishes of Christmas Island Indian Ocean. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 197 pp.

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.   

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls. 

Francis, M.P., 1991. Additions to the fish faunas of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, Southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 45(2): 204-220.

Francis, M. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170 figs 1-2 

Francis, M.P. 2019. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk and Kermadec Islands, southwest Pacific Ocean. Version: 2019.2 figshare. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4428305.v2

Fricke, R., Kulbicki, M. & Wantiez, L. 2011. Checklist of the fishes of New Caledonia, and their distribution in the Southwest Pacific Ocean (Pisces). Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. Serie A (Biologie) Neue Serie 4: 341-463 

Günther, A. 1870. Catalogue of the Fishes in the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Gymnotidae, Symbranchidae, Muraenidae, Pegasidae, and of the Lophobranchii, Plectognathi, Dipnoi, [thru] Leptocardii, in the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 8 549 pp. 

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S.J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Checklist and new records of Christmas Island fishes: the influence of isolation, biogeography and habitat availability on species abundance and community composition. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 184–202, https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/rbz/supplement-no-30/

Hobbs, J-P.A., Newman, S .J., Mitsopoulos, G.E.A., Travers, M.J., Skepper, C.L., Gilligan, J.J., Allen, G.R., Choat, H.J. & Ayling, A.M. 2014. Fishes of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: new records, community composition and biogeographic significance. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 30: 203–219, https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/rbz/supplement-no-30/

Kuiter R.H. & Tonozuka, T. 2001. Indonesian Reef Fishes. Part 1. Eels- Snappers, Muraenidae - Lutjanidae. Melbourne : Zoonetics pp. 1-302.

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

Lay, G.T. & Bennett, E.T. 1839. Fishes. pp. 41–75 pls 15–23 in, The Zoology of Captain Beechey's voyage. London : Henry G. Bohn. 

McCosker, J.E. 1977. The osteology, classification, and relationships of the eel family Ophichthidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 41(1): 1-123 figs 1-45 See ref at BHL 

McCosker, J.E. & Castle, P.H.J. 1986. Family No. 42: Ophichthidae. pp. 176-186 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls. 

Moore, G.I., Morrison, S.M., Hutchins, B.J., Allen, G.R. and Sampey, A. 2014. Kimberley marine biota. Historical data: fishes. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 84: 161-206 

Parker, P.G. 1999. Fish assemblages at Julian Rocks and the adjacent waters of northern New South Wales, Australia. The Australian Zoologist 31(1): 134-160 

Randall, J.E. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press 707 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. 

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs. 

Russell, B.C. 1983. Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker group, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Special Publication Series 1: 1-184 figs 1-2

Smith, D.G. & McCosker, J.E. 1999. Family Ophichthidae. pp. 1662-1699 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.
Trnski, T., Duffy, C.A.J., Francis, M.P., McGrouther, M.A., Stewart, A.L., Struthers, C.D. & Zintzen, V. 2015. Recent collections of fishes at the Kermadec Islands and new records for the region. Bulletin of the Auckland Museum 20: 463-480, www.aucklandmuseum.com/research/pub/bulletin/20/20

Quick Facts


CAAB Code:37068018

Behaviour:Burrowing

Depth:0-70 m

Habitat:Reef associated

Max Size:66 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map