Pacific Shortfin Eel

Anguilla obscura
Pacific Shortfin Eel - Marinewise © 2023 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Anguilla obscura
Other names Pacific Shortfinned Eel, South Pacific Eel
Size Up to 1.2 m (3.93 ft)
Weight Up to 3 kg (6.6 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Fresh, brackish & marine waters in streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, swamps, estuaries & coastal lagoons
Depth Range 0 - 10 m (32 ft)
Pacific Shortfin Eel Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Pacific Shortfin Eel is a species of freshwater eel commonly found in northern Queensland.
  • They have a distinctive appearance, with a dark brown or black body and a pale underbelly.
  • The Pacific Shortfin Eel is a nocturnal predator that feeds mainly on aquatic insects, crustaceans and small fish.
  • Unlike many other eel species, the Pacific Shortfin Eel does not migrate to the ocean to spawn. Instead, the species breeds in freshwater habitats, with females laying up to 20 million eggs in the substrate of the river or lake bed.
  • The larvae of the Pacific Shortfin Eel, known as leptocephali, hatch from eggs laid in freshwater habitats and then move downstream towards the ocean. Once in the ocean, the leptocephali drift with ocean currents for several months before returning to freshwater habitats as young eels called glass eels.
  • The Pacific Shortfin Eel has a well-developed sense of smell, which it uses to navigate and locate prey in murky freshwater habitats.
  • They are a long-lived species, known to live up to 35 years in the wild.
Species Interaction

Recreational Fishing

Pacific Shortfin Eels are a popular sport fish in Australia, known for their large size and fighting ability. They are considered challenging to catch due to their strength and the habitats they inhabit, which often have dense vegetation and other obstacles.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Anguilliformes

Family: Anguillidae

Genus: Anguilla

Species: Anguilla obscura

Conservation Status

The conservation status of the Pacific Shortfin Eel in Australia is listed as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List. This means that there is not enough information available to assess the species’ conservation status.

Fish Taste Quality

Pacific shortfin eel are considered to be a delicacy in some cultures, including in Australia and New Zealand. The flesh of eels is often described as firm, oily, and flavourful, with a taste similar to that of salmon or tuna.

Taste Rating: 4/5

How to catch
Pacific Shortfin Eel

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Patternoster Rig, Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Fresh cut flesh baits, Prawns, Worms, Live minnow

Technique: Keep bait on the bottom, Keep bait close to structure

Popularity: Targeted

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