Eptatretus alastairi Mincarone & Fernholm 2010

Holotype of Alastair's Hagfish, Eptatretus alastairi, north of Port Hedland, WA

Holotype of Alastair's Hagfish, Eptatretus alastairi, north of Port Hedland, WA. Source: Michael Mincarone © Michael Mincarone. License:


Eptatretus alastairi is endemic to the northern half of Australia, and differs from other Australian hagfishes by having six pairs of gill pouches and dentition with three-cusp multicusps on the anterior and posterior rows of cusps.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2018, Eptatretus alastairi in Fishes of Australia, accessed 25 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/4765

Eptatretus alastairi Mincarone & Fernholm 2010

More Info


This endemic species is known from off Collier Bay (near Sandy Islet) to off Gantheaume Bay, Western Australia, and from off the Capricorn Group, Queensland, in depths of 380 to 550 m.


Three-cusp multicusps on the anterior and posterior rows of cusps. Anterior unicusps (left/right) 9/11 (9–12). Posterior unicusps (left/right) 10/9 (8–11). Total cusps 51 (48–56). Prebranchial pores 14 (13–16). Branchial pores 5 (5–6). Trunk pores 54 (50–55). Tail pores 12 (11–13). Total pores 85 (83–88).


To 49.5 cm


Reddish-brown in life. In preservative: light brown, with a whitish ventral ban between the rows of prebranchial pores in some; mouth, gill openings, slime pores and ventral finfold usually with pale margins.


Hagfishes scavenge on dead or dying marine life, primarily on fishes and invertebrates, but also on marine mammals that have sunk to the ocean floor. They feed by rasping flesh with their horny teeth, often going completely inside sunken carcasses and feeding from the inside out.


The sexes are separate and fertilization is external. Hagfishes lay large demersal eggs.


Of no interest to fisheries.


Not listed.

Similar Species

Distinguished from other Australian species in the genus Eptatretus in having the following combination of characters: 6 pairs of gill pouches; dentition with multicusp pattern 3/3; total cusps 48–56; prebranchial pores 13–16; total pores 83–88; two nasal-sinus papillae in the dorsal surface of the nasal sinus; ventral finfold beginning posterior to the last pair of gill apertures.


Named for Alastair Graham, Collection Manager at the CSIRO National Fish Collection.

Species Citation

Eptatretus alastairi Mincarone & Fernholm 2010, J. Fish Biol.77: 792, Figs. 2D, 6. Type locality: North of Point Hedland, 18°06'S, 118°17'E, Western Australia, depth 396-402 metres.


Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Eptatretus alastairi Mincarone & Fernholm 2010


Mincarone, M.M.& B. Fernholm. 2010. Review of the Australian hagfishes with description of two new species of Eptatretus (Myxinidae). Journal of Fish Biology 77: 779-801.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37004005

Depth:380-550 metres

Feeding:Carnivore, scavenger


Max Size:To 49.5 cm


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CAAB distribution map