Eptatretus mcconnaugheyi 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Myxini Myxiniformes Myxinidae

Scientific Name: Eptatretus mcconnaugheyi Wisner & McMillan, 1990
Common Name(s):
English Shorthead Hagfish
Spanish Bruja Cabeza Chica

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Data Deficient ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-12-11
Assessor(s): Mincarone, M.M.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B., Knapp, L. & Carpenter, K.E.
This species is known from 58 museum specimens along the coast of Baja, Mexico and the lower Gulf of California. This fish is affected by trawling in at least the Gulf of California portion of its range. However, more information is needed to determine if this population is a separate species, given this species disjunct distribution. Currently it is listed as Data Deficient. More research is needed on this species taxonomy, distribution, population, biology, life history, and potential threats.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:According to Wisner and McMillan (1990) E. mcconnaugheyi appears to consist of two disjunctive populations, one from Santa Monica Bay, California, to the Cedros and San Benito Islands, Baja, Mexico, and the other apparently restricted to the lower portion of the Gulf of California. Collecting efforts between the Cedros and San Benito Islands and the mouth of the Gulf of California have failed to record the species.
Countries occurrence:
Mexico; United States
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Pacific – eastern central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):415
Upper depth limit (metres):43
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This population is known from 58 museum specimens but the population is known to be disjunct. There is not enough information to assess abundance levels.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found on the continental shelf and slope at depths from 42-384 m off Baja California and from 177-415 m in the Gulf of California. According to Wisner and McMillan (1990), of 58 specimens for which sex could be reliably determined, 64% were female and 36% male. The largest egg found in any female is 26x8 mm. The smallest female with round or slightly ovoid eggs is 267 mm total length (TL). It is possible that females from the Gulf of California population mature at a smaller size than do those from southern California. In the Gulf of California, females measuring from 267-352 mm TL had eggs ranging in size from 15.8 to 20.8 mm. In contrast, in the southern California population, eggs larger than 15 mm occur only in females larger than 400 mm TL. The holotype contains 18 mature eggs, the largest 25.2 x 9.0 mm, all linked in rows by anchor filaments (Wisner and McMillan 1990). 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).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species' distribution is disjunct and overlaps with extensive trawling activities, particularly within the Gulf of California.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is found in the upper depth limit within the Gulf of California which will be protected by the network of coastal Marine Protected Areas. More research is needed on this species' distribution, biology, population size and impact of fishing activities.

Classifications [top]

9. Marine Neritic -> 9.5. Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
11. Marine Deep Benthic -> 11.1. Marine Deep Benthic - Continental Slope/Bathyl Zone (200-4,000m) -> 11.1.2. Soft Substrate

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology

Bibliography [top]

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.1). Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2017).

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.

Wisner, R.L. and McMillan, C.B. 1990. Three new species of hagfishes, genus Eptatretus (Cyclostomata, Myxinidae), from the Pacific coast of North America, with new data on E. deani and E. stoutii. Fisheries Bulletin 88: 787-804.

Citation: Mincarone, M.M. 2011. Eptatretus mcconnaugheyi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T196032A8995760. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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