Faceless Cusk, Typhlonus nasus Günther 1878

Other Names: Faceless Cusk Eel, Faceless Fish

A Faceless Cusk, Typhlonus nasus, filmed by an ROV swimming on an unnamed seamount near the Marianas, 29 June 2016, depth 3,315 m. Source: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas. License: CC by Attribution

A blind abyssal cusk eel with no external evidence of eyes (at least in large individuals), and a bulbous head and snout overhanging a relatively small protrusible mouth. The species has two pairs of large nostrils, a single pelvic-fin ray positioned below the gill cover on each side, and large deciduous scales.
The Faceless Cusk was originally described from two specimens trawled during the 'Challenger Expedition' in the 1870s, one of which was collected in the northern Coral Sea just outside Australia's EEZ.
See Video footage of a Faceless Cusk filmed by a NOAA ROV on an unnamed seamount in the Marianas at a depth of ~ 3,300 m, 29 June 2016.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Typhlonus nasus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 23 May 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/5354

Faceless Cusk, Typhlonus nasus Günther 1878

More Info


Ningaloo Canyons, Westtern Australia, and the abyssal plain, from the Coral Sea off Cape York, Queensland (~13 24 S), to off Jervis Bay, New South Wales, in depths between about 3100-4275 m, and in the northern Coral Sea just outside AUS EEZ. Elsewhere the species is known from scattered localities in the Indo-west-central Pacific: the Arabian Sea, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, off the Marianas, and Hawaii.


Dorsal fin 93-104; Anal fin 71-78; Pectoral fin 24-28; Pelvic fin 1; Caudal fin 8; Branchiostegal rays 7; Gill rakers (1st arch) ii-iv+ I0-13+v-vi; Vertebrae 13-14 + 42-45 = 57-60. 
Head large, bulbous, length about 25% standard length; body tapering to a small, slender tail; opercular spine weak, flexible, bifurcate, covered with skin in larger specimens; premaxillary, dentary, vomer, palatines with very small close-set teeth; first four gill arches with small and robust dorsal and ventral gill rakers; medial gill rakers long and slender.
Dorsal and anal fins long-based, dorsal fin arising above pectoral fin; caudal fin small, slender; pectoral fin short; pelvic fins reduced to a single, jugular, relatively stout ray. 
Scales large, deciduous; lateral line absent.


Feeds on a variety of crustaceans.


Typhlonus is from the Greek, typhlos or tyflos (= blind) and onos (= hake). The specific name is from the Latin nasus (= nose), presumably in reference to the large nostrils of this species. So it's a "large nosed blind hake".

Species Citation

Typhlonus nasus Günther 1878, Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 5 2(2, 22, 28): 21. Type locality: northeast of Australia and north of Sulawesi, Indonesia, depth 2150 and 2440 fathoms.


Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Faceless Cusk, Typhlonus nasus Günther 1878


Carter H.J., 1983. Apagesoma edentatum, a new genus and species of ophidiid fish from western North Atlantic. Bulletin of Marine Science 33: 94-101. PDF Open access

Cohen, D.M. & Nielsen, J.G. 1978. Guide to the identification of genera of the fish order Ophidiiformes with a tentative classification of the order. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Technical Report NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) Circular No. 417: 1-72. PDF available

Günther, A. 1878. Preliminary notices of deep-sea fishes collected during the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 5 2(2, 22, 28): 17-28, 179-187, 248-251. See ref at BHL

Günther, A. 1887. Report on the deep-sea fishes collected by H.M.S Challenger during the years 1873–1876. Report on the Scientific Results of the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 1873–1876, Zoology 22(57): 1-268 figs 1-7 pls 1-66 [p. 119] PDF available and here

Howes, J.G. 1997. Observations on the head anatomy of the abyssal ophidiiform genus Typhlonus Gunther 1878, with comments on its phylogenetic relationships. South African Journal of Science 93(11): 574-578

Nielsen, J.G. 1965. On the genera Acanthonus and Typhlonus (Pisces, Brotulidae). Galathea Report 8: 33-47. PDF Open access

Nielsen, J.G. & Cohen, D.M. 1999. in Nielsen, J.G., Cohen, D.M., Markle, D.F. & Robins, C.R. 1999. Ophidiiform Fishes of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of pearlfishes, cusk-eels, brotulas and other ophidiiform species known to date. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 Vol. 18. 178 pp.

Nielsen. J.G. 1999. Families Carapidae, Ophidiidae, Bythitidae, Aphionidae. pp. 1978-1985 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.

Senou, H. & Sato, T. 2008. New record of a rare ophidiid fish, Typhlonus nasus Gunther, 1878 from Japan. Bulletin of the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum (Natural Science) 37: 43-46 (in Japanese). 

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37228124


Depth:3146-5100 m


Max Size:57 cm TL (46.5 cm SL)

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map