Pelican Eels: Learn all about these amazing creatures

Today you will meet one of the strangest and most surprising animals of the marine environment: The Pelican Eels or gulper eels (Eurypharynx pelecanoides) inhabitant of the last depths and oceanic abysses.

This fish lives in the depths of the sea abysses, and is seldom seen by a human being. It Measures 61 cm. Long and is housed in tropical and subtropical waters.


Phylum: Chordata   Class: Actinopterygii Subclass: Neopterygii  Order: Saccopharyngiformes Family: Eurypharyngidae

Genus: Eurypharynx


The Pelican Eels’ Main Characteristics

Their huge mouth remembers a pelican’s  beak  which is the main reason of their names.  These fish are characterized by having a velvety, elongated and fine body, of black coloration. They can reach 100 cm of maximum length, although the average is usually lower (55cm). Their head is big and bulbous and their eyes small just like their teeth.

The mouth is quite large with powerful jaws that span nearly a quarter of their body. The Pelican Eels’ lack scales and the organs of the lateral lines don’t  have protection in the subcutaneous channel, so they are exposed to the outside, being more sensitive to water vibrations.  In addition, their wipe-like tail   has a luminous organ that serves as a decoy to catch their prey.

let’s watch them

Feeding Habits

The Pelican eels mainly feed on fish, Shrimp and Plankton. Since their mouth and stomach has that capacity to increase in size the Eurypharynx Pelecanoides are able to ingest fish of their same size, although as mentioned their diet is mainly based on shellfish and Plankton.

Habitat and Behavior

Eurypharynx Pelecanoides is an abyssal creature, which inhabits deep sea of tropical and temperate waters, in depths ranging from 500 to 7600 m, although it is more common between 1200 to 1400 m.

The abyssal area is the part of the ocean that is located more than 2,000 meters deep. The area is defined mainly by its different environmental conditions which are very uniform, characteristic that is reflected in the different forms of life that inhabit it.

The abyssal Kingdom is the largest environment for life on Earth, covering around 300 million square kilometres, about 60 percent of the global surface and 83 percent of the oceans and seas area. The abyssal waters originate in the Air-sea interface in the Polar Regions, mainly in Antarctica.

In these very uniform waters can be found concentrations of salts and nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and silica, even are much higher than in the supralying waters.

This is because the abyssal waters are the reservoir of the salts of the decomposed biological materials that settle down from the upper zones, and the lack of sunlight prevents their absorption by photosynthesis.

pelican eels. ocean areas

Abyssal Fauna

The fish that inhabit the abyssal area are known as abyssal fish. These animals tend to be grey or black, they are not very structured and without lines. Mobile shapes have long legs; while the specimens tied to the bottom have stems, allowing them to rise above the water layer closest to the bottom, where the oxygen is scarce.

Crustaceans and abyssal fish can be blind. With ever-increasing depth, carnivores and scavengers become less abundant than animals that feed on sludge and suspended matter. It is believed that abyssal animals reproduce very slowly. Certainly the animals that inhabit this area are very strange and have a monstrous appearance.

Most are also bioluminescent, which helps them to attract their prey and avoid some dangers. You can also find the abyssal gigantism, which includes animals as large as sea spiders that measure more than 1.50 meters. Among other species that we can find are: The giant squid  that measures between 17 and 19 meters long, the Dragon fish, ball fish,  glass squid, octopus Dumbo, and axe fish .

Abyssal Flora

The flora that inhabits the abyssal zone feeds mainly on debris that falls to the bottom of the sea from the surface. Not being able to get sunlight, plants are not able to perform the photosynthesis process, so there are no green algae.

Let’s take a trip to the deep sea

Pelican Eels’  Distribution

These fish have a wide geographic distribution, since they can be found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. The pelican fish is cataloged by the IUCN as of minor concern, currently there are no threats or conservation measures.

Pelican Eels’ Reproduction

Given the characteristics of the areas where they inhabit, their reproductive behavior hasn’t been properly studied, although it is known that they are oviparous. It has been suggested that they could perform a single spawning in their lives.

here they are again

The Pelican Eels in the Depths

For The Pelican fish and the other species inhabitants of these oceanic abysses, life is not easy, because to obtain their food they must wait for the remains of dead fish and plankton that arrive from the surface, since they can seldom catch prey in their surroundings.

Likewise, it is known that these fish are always at the disposal of any food that can reach these depths, even though the stretch is quite long, and there are thousands of species that also need to eat and that can take advantage of the Situation before they get to the bottom.

But It is one of the reasons why the Pelican is prepared for this situation, it has its huge mouth to catch a lot of food and a stomach that can also easily accommodate the amounts of food that it can swallow.

In the past centuries the existence of living beings in the marine depths could never be believed to be established at a distance of 2000 meters. It was from the year 1977, when different marine biologists and explorers of these marine waters, were able to contact the existence of life in depths below 2500 meters.

The Pelican Eels and the Human Beings

Scientists have made countless findings of animals that are not yet fully known and whose behavior and characteristics continue to be studied.

Until Now it is believed that the discoveries have been only a small part of what hide the abysses of the seas, and it is still thought that they are mostly animals with a monstrous appearance, which is completely false.

The studies on these abyssal fish continue, using bathyscaphes (self-propelled deep-sea submersible). We have already mentioned that the pelican is blind like most abyssal fish, has very small eyes and somewhat sprouted but also cannot See. Some research has been done, concluding that it may be because of the lack of light.

It is a presumed fact that it is the light factor. For these fish this peculiarity goes unnoticed, since they use other means to subsist, they put in use their other senses, as is the sensibility, through which they perceive perfectly the presence of any species or predator nearby.

Even when there are hydrothermal chimneys in many sea areas that could help control the temperature, it is not enough as they do not reach over two Celsius degrees. In any case this temperature is between zero degree and three degrees Celsius, depending on the depth and the location area where the pelican fish and other species are sheltered.

There is a probability that in a short time it can be said with certainty an approximate number of species inhabitants of the ocean depths, until the moments the species found living in these funds are of monstrous appearance, compared with the Species that inhabit superficial places, which have great beauties.

In any case, reference is made to the appearance of the Pelican Fish, which is presumed to be descendants of the superficial fish, but due to the chosen habitat is that new and strange characteristics develop.

let’s continue learning

Curios Facts About Pelican Eels

  • Many of these abyssal fish have their own stories that perhaps are part of a true story, or of a fantasy created around their lives in the deep oceans. In the same way, the scorpion fish is part of such spaces, which can easily camouflage among the reefs and be able to attack their prey.
  • It is fishermen and divers who penetrate these depths in search of new species and new discoveries, to let other people know what is interesting to penetrate the ocean depths, where there is life in abundance, and where wonderful stories can be extracted.
  • Other peculiarity of these pelican fish is given by the luminous organ at the end of  their  tail which they use to impress their prey and capture them.
  • Their size is closely related to their age, location and the type of food, since in the oceanic abysses only 5% of the food that can be on the surface of the marine waters arrives.
  • The pelican fish has one of the strongest jaws among all the abyssal species, which resembles that of a snake, since it can open it in such a way that it can swallow a prey of its own size or perhaps larger than it.
  • There are records that show that this fish has been able to eat a fish of 1 meter in length, in addition to expanding its huge mouth to perform these feats. in the same way its stomach has the particularity of enlarging to be able to sustain prey of those magnitudes.
  • The movements performed by the pelican fish to capture its prey are quick and accurate, an act that is carried out by moving its tail in the form of a whip to perform different maneuvers.
  • This part of his body has a sort of ball similar to a small bulb that produces a small incandescent light that is used to impress his prey and capture them more easily. This light is produced with the help of some bacteria that lodge in this part of their body to produce such an effect.
  • Geographic Distribution and Distribution
  • It is a fish with a wide geographic distribution, it can be found in Atlantic waters, Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • The pelican fish is cataloged by the IUCN as of minor concern, currently there are no threats or conservation measures.

mother nature never stops amazing us with its wonders

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