Eptatretus cirrhatus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Eptatretus cirrhatus
Species Authority: (Forster, 1801)
Common Name(s):
English Broadgilled Hagfish, Hagfish, Blind Eel, New Zealand Hagfish
Bdellostoma forsteri Müller, 1836
Bdellostoma heptatrema Müller, 1836
Homea banksii Fleming, 1822
Petromyzon cirrhatus Forster, 1801

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-11-09
Assessor(s): Mincarone, M.M.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B., Knapp, L. & Carpenter, K.E.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, H.T., Lutz, M.L., Batchelor, A., Jopling, B., Kemp, K., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Smith, J., Livingston, F., Collen, B., Richman, N., Beresford, A., Chenery, A. & Ram, M.
This species is known to be one of the most common hagfish species in Australia and New Zealand. Its range may be larger than currently known and no known threats exist. It is listed as Least Concern.
2010 Least Concern

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is present in eastern Australia from the south of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (off Curtis Island) to the eastern Bass Strait, from 100-760 m depth. It is also present around New Zealand, being most abundant around South Island at depths from 1-1,100 m (Mincarone and Fernholm 2010).
Australia; New Zealand
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – southwest; Pacific – western central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is limited knowledge of this species' population. It is the most common hagfish species in Australia and New Zealand and can form locally abundant populations (Mincarone and Stewart 2006).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is known from shallow to deep waters, on soft bottom shelves and slopes at depths from 1-1,100 m. It can form locally abundant populations and is often associated with inshore reefs (Mincarone and Stewart 2006, Mincarone and Fernholm 2010).

Of eight specimens examined by McMillan and Wisner (1984), a 655 mm female had about 50 large eggs ranging from 29-32 mm long. All were still in the mesentery and the terminal anchor filaments were not present on any egg.

The copulatory organ is absent in this species. The gonads of hagfishes are situated in the peritoneal cavity. The ovary is found in the anterior portion of the gonad, and the testis is found in the posterior part. The animal becomes female if the cranial part of the gonad develops or male if the caudal part undergoes differentiation. If none develops, then the animal becomes sterile. If both anterior and posterior parts develop, then the animal becomes a functional hermaphrodite. However, hermaphroditism being characterised as functional needs to be validated by more reproduction studies (Patzner 1998).
Systems: Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There is no information on type and scale of threats known about this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation actions in place, but more research is needed on this species' biology, population size, distribution and fisheries impacts.

Bibliography [top]

Bloch, M.E. and Schneider J.G. 1801. M.E. Blochii, systema ichthyologiae iconibus cx illustratum. Post obitum auctoris opus inchoatum absolvit, correxit, interpolavit Jo. Gottlob Schneider, Saxo. Berolini, Sumtibus Austoris Impressum et Bibliopol.

Fleming, J. 1822. The philosophy of zoology; or a general view of the structure, functions, and classification of animals. Fishes 2: 305-397.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 16 June 2011).

McMillan, C.B. and Wisner, R.L. 1984. Three new species of seven-gilled hagfishes (Myxinidae, Eptatretus) from the Pacific Ocean. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 43(16): 249-267.

Mincarone, M.M. and Fernholm, B. 2010. Review of the Australian hagfishes with description of two new species of Eptatretus (Myxinidae). Journal of Fish Biology 77: 779-801.

Mincarone, M.M. and Stewart, A.L. 2006. A new species of giant seven-gilled hagfish (Myxinidae: Eptatretus) from New Zealand. Copeia 2: 225-229.

Müller, J. 1836. Vergleichende Anatomie der Myxinoiden, der Cyclostomen mit durchbohrtem Gaumen. Erster Theil. Osteologie und Myologie., pp. 65-340. Abh. Königl. Akad. Wiss, Berlin.

Patzner, R.A. 1998. Gonads and reproduction in hagfishes. In: J.M. Jørgensen, J.P. Lomholt, R.E. Weber, and H. Malte (eds), The biology of hagfishes, pp. 378-395. Chapman & Hall, London.

Citation: Mincarone, M.M. 2013. Eptatretus cirrhatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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