Southern Shortfin Eel

Anguilla australis
Southern Shortfin Eel - Marinewise © 2024 MarineWise

Quick Facts

Scientific name Anguilla australis
Other names Australian Shortfinned Eel, Freshwater Eel, River Eel, Shortfin Eel, Silver Eel, Yellow Eel
Size Up to 1.1 m (3.6 ft)
Weight Up to 3 kg (6.6 lb)


Habitat & AU Distribution Fresh & brackish waters amongst rivers, creeks, lakes, swamps & reservoirs - Marine waters for spawning
Depth Range 0 - 100 m (328 ft)
Southern Shortfin Eel Distribution

Interesting Info

  • The Southern Shortfin Eel is a species of eel that is endemic to Australia. It is found in various habitats, including freshwater rivers, lakes, and estuaries along the southern coast of Australia.
  • It has a long and slender body, which is cylindrical in shape. The eel is usually dark brown or black in colour, but can sometimes be greenish or yellowish-brown. Its belly is paler in colour than its back, and it has a small mouth with sharp teeth.
  • The Southern Shortfin Eel is a nocturnal predator that feeds on fish, crustaceans, and molluscs.
  • They have a catadromous lifecycle, meaning that it migrates from freshwater to saltwater to spawn. The eel spawns in the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea, near the western coast of New Caledonia.
  • After spawning, the young eels, called elvers, migrate back to Australian freshwater habitats. The migration of elvers from the sea to freshwater habitats can take several months and covers thousands of kilometres.
  • The eel is a popular recreational and commercial fish species in Australia. Its flesh is highly valued and is used in a range of culinary dishes.
  • They are a long-lived species, known to live up to 30 years.
Species Interaction

Commercial & Recreational Fishing

Southern Shortfin Eels are commercially and recreationally fished in Australia. Commercial fishing of Southern Shortfin Eels in Australia mainly occurs in the Murray-Darling Basin, where they are caught using fyke nets. Southern Shortfin Eels are a popular target for recreational fishers in Australia, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Anguilliformes

Family: Anguillidae

Genus: Anguilla

Species: Anguilla australis

Conservation Status

In Australia, the Southern Shortfin Eel is not currently listed as threatened under national environmental law. However, some populations in certain regions may be at risk due to factors such as habitat degradation, overfishing, and changes to water flow regimes.

Fish Taste Quality

Southern shortfin eel are considered a delicacy in many countries. They are often smoked, grilled, or fried and have a rich, oily flavour and a firm, meaty texture.

Taste Rating: 4/5

How to catch
Southern Shortfin Eel

Catch Difficulty: Intermediate

Tackle: Patternoster Rig, Running Sinker Rig

Bait: Fresh cut flesh baits, Pilchards, Prawns, Squid, Live minnow

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

Popularity: Highly Targeted

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