Eptatretus profundus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Eptatretus profundus
Species Authority: (Barnard, 1923)
Common Name(s):
English Fivegill Hagfish
Heptatretus profundus Barnard, 1923

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-11-11
Assessor(s): Mincarone, M.M.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B., Knapp, L. & Carpenter, K.E.
This species is only known from a few deep water specimens off the coast of South Africa. There are no known threats to this species. However, may be caught incidentally in bottom trawling fisheries within its range. It is listed as Least Concern. More research is needed on this species distribution, population, biology, life history, and potential threats, especially as this species has a limited range and is potentially susceptible to deep-sea trawling along the continental slope.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found off the coast of South Africa, from off Lambert’s Bay to Cape Agulhas (Mincarone, unpubl. data).
South Africa
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species' population is only known by a few specimens so abundance levels are unknown. It has been known by the holotype for many years but more specimens have been recorded in museums more recently (Mincarone, unpubl. data).
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is located on the continental slope at depths from 490-1,150 m.

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 are no known direct threats to this species, but its limited range may be vulnerable to deep-sea trawling in this highly productive coastal region.

Conservation Actions [top]

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

Bibliography [top]

Barnard, K.H. 1923. Diagnoses of new species of marine fishes from South African waters. Annals of the South African Museum 13: 439-444.

Fernholm, B. 1986. Myxinidae. In: M.M. Smith and P.C. Heemstra (eds), Smiths’ sea fishes, pp. 35-36. Macmillan, Johannesburg.

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

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.

Smith, M.M. 1975. Common and scientific names of the fishes of Southern Africa. Part 1. Marine fishes. J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology Special Publication.

Citation: Mincarone, M.M. 2013. Eptatretus profundus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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