Family: HETERENCHELYIDAE, Mud Eel, Mud Eels
gill opening low
Heterenchelid eels, which reach ~ 1 m, are highly modified for burrowing, headfirst. They have moderately elongate bodies; tail longer than head and body; blunt heads, with tiny, skin-covered eyes; a large mouth that extends well past eye, with more or less equal jaws; teeth conical to molariform, 2-3 rows on jaws, 1-several rows on roof of mouth; no pectoral fin; gill openings low on the body; dorsal and anal fins that are low and confluent with the tail; dorsal fin origin over the gill opening; no lateral line, no pores on head; no scales.
This small family, which contains two genera and 8 species, is restricted to the tropical and subtropical Atlantic and eastern Pacific; one west Atlantic species occurs in the Greater Caribbean.
PREPARED BY D ROSS ROBERTSON, AFTER SMITH (2002)