#SundayFishSketch Ribbon Eel

This #SundayFishSketch comes from Ichthyologist, Rene Martin. Visit her shop on InPrint to see more of her artwork or to order prints!

Meet the Ribbon Eel

Rhinomuraena quaesita

Rhinomuraena quaesita Ribbon Eel Fiji by Nick Hobgood

Gracefully snaking through the water as if under the control of a rhythmic gymnast, the Ribbon Eel is quite the spectacle. In the reefs and lagoons of the Indo-Pacific is where they may be found—from Eastern Africa, northeast to Japan, south to Australia, and back again.

While they may be seen swimming freely, they are more inclined to select a hidey hole in which they will stay for days, months, or even years. From these holes in sand or rubble, they snatch up passers by in the form of small fishes. Sometimes, they coop up together in these holes, sharing the space as a literal man-cave.

I say man-cave because the Ribbon Eel is a protandrous hermaphrodite, meaning they start out as males and only change into females when it becomes pressing or strategic for them to do so—though I should add there is some debate about this.

The juveniles of this species are nearly all black, gaining the yellow dorsal fin and purple coloration once reaching maturity. Females are nearly entirely yellow. Coloration aside, perhaps their most notable features are the fleshy anterior nostrils fanning out from its snout, and the three fleshy tentacle like structures extending off of their lower jaw.

Okay, I’m done using the word “fleshy”.


McCosker, J.E. 2010. Rhinomuraena quaesita (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T155301A115297865. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T155301A4770176.en. Downloaded on 26 August 2018.

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