Basketweave Cusk Eel, Ophidion scrippsae: The Basketweave Cusk Eel has an olive brown coloration that is paler below with dark lines along the scales that produce a criss-cross pattern.
The anal and dorsal fins of the Basketweave Cusk Eel are pale with black margins. Basketweave Cusk Eels have elongated compressed bodies with compressed heads that are 22 percent of standard length and the top profile is convex.
The snout has a bony process and does not overhang the mouth.
A key to identification of the Basketweave Cusk Eel is the gill raker count, 6 to 11 in total with the lower 4 to 8 longer. They have long pectoral fins that are equal to or slightly longer than the pectoral fins.
These eels reach a maximum of 11 inches in length. They are found demersal (on the bottom) on soft bottoms up to 350 feet in the water column and are nocturnal feeders feeding on polychaete worms, small crustaceans, small clams and other invertebrates.
The Basketweave Cusk Eel has a unique coloration pattern and cannot be easily confused with any other species with the possible exception of the Brighteye Cusk-Eel, Ophidion iris (6-7 gill rakers, lower 4-5 long; pelvic fins are 1.2-1.8x length of pectoral fins).
In Mexican fishing waters Basketweave Cusk Eels have a limited distribution being found only along the west coast of Baja California from Tijuana to just south of Magdalena Bay. This collection represents a 100 mile extension of the known range to the south. They are seldom seen by humans and are of limited interest to most. The catch shown below is a very rare catch.
This is a member of the Ophidiidae Family which are known in Mexico as congriperlas. They are long slender eel-like fishes with an elongated body that tapers to a pointed tail. They have large mouths. The anal and dorsal fins are low and confluent with the tail. The pectoral fins are midsized and they have two small thread-like pelvic fins inserted under the eyes. Globally there are 13 members of the genus of which five are found in Mexican waters.