Brighteyed Cusk Eel
Congriperla Arcoiris
(Ophidion iris)

Brighteyed Cusk Eel, Ophidion iris: The Brighteyed Cusk Eel has a uniform pale brown coloration that is paler below with the front two-thirds of the anal and dorsal fins having narrow dark margins.

They have elongated compressed bodies with compressed heads that are 27 percent of standard length. A key to identification is the gill raker count, 6 to 7 in total, with 4 or 5 longer.

The pelvic fins are 1.2 x 1.8 times the length of the pectoral fins.

They reach a maximum of 26 cm (10.25 inches) in length.

They are found demersal (on the bottom) on soft bottoms up to 275 feet in the water column and are nocturnal feeders feeding on polychaete worms, small crustaceans, small clams and other invertebrates.

The Brighteyed Cusk Eel is a difficult species to identify and can be easily confused with the Basketweave Cusk-Eel, Ophidion scrippsae (6-11 gill rakers, lower 4-8 long; criss-cross lines along scale rows).

In Mexican waters they have a limited distribution being found only in lower three-fourths of the Sea of Cortez. They are seldom seen by humans and are of limited interest to most. The catch below is a very rare catch.

The Brighteyed Cusk Eel 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 mid-sized 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.

Brighteyed Cusk Eel picture

Brighteyed Cusk Eel picture

Brighteyed Cusk Eel, Ophidion iris: Caught by commercial fishermen in the greater Los Cabos area of Baja California Sur, Mexico, in December 2010. Size 19.1 cm (7.5 inches), tail was 62 percent of its length. Identification courtesy of Robert N. Lea, Department of Fish and Game, State of California, Monterey. Description and photos courtesy of John Snow.

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