Serpent Eel, Ophisurus serpens (Linnaeus 1758)

Other Names: Giant Snake Eel, Snake Eel, Snipe Eel

A Serpent Eel, Ophisurus serpens, at Shiprock, Port Hacking, New South Wales, 20 September 2013. Source: John Turnbull / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

A sandy to olive-green silvery eel with long, slender jaws that extend beyond the eye, black head pores, no scales and no pelvic fins. Divers usually only see the head protruding from the substrate.
Great video of a Serpent Eel at Clifton Gardens, Sydney Harbour.

Video of a Serpent Eel at Magic Point, Maroubra, New South Wales - swimming in the water column.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Ophisurus serpens in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 Jan 2020,

Serpent Eel, Ophisurus serpens (Linnaeus 1758)

More Info


Recorded from the southern half of Australia from southern Queensland to south-west Western Australia. Occurs elsewhere in New Zealand, South Africa, Europe and the Eastern Atlantic.Inhabits burrows in sandy and silty bottoms. Adults occur in offshore waters, while juveniles are found in coastal bays and estuaries.


Dianne J. Bray

Serpent Eel, Ophisurus serpens (Linnaeus 1758)


Edgar, G.J. 1997. Australian Marine Life: the plants and animals of temperate waters. Reed Books. 544 pp.

Castle, P.H.J. in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. 992 pp.

Hutchins, B. & R. Swainston. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete Field Guide for Anglers and Divers. Swainston Publishing. 180 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. 433 pp.

Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. 437 pp.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37068001

Depth:0-550 m

Habitat:Sandy, silty bottoms

Max Size:250 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map