Myxine capensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Myxini Myxiniformes Myxinidae

Scientific Name: Myxine capensis Regan, 1913
Common Name(s):
English Cape Hagfish
French Myxine du Cap
Spanish Pez Moco del Cabo

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-11-11
Assessor(s): Mincarone, M.M.
Reviewer(s): Polidoro, B., Knapp, L. & Carpenter, K.E.
This species is widespread in southern Africa, and is considered common. It is likely that its distribution extends up to the south coast of Mozambique, but this needs to be confirmed. Although there are several trawl fisheries operating within at least part of the depth and distributional range of this species, there is no current indication of widespread population decline. It is listed as Least Concern. However, given that there are extensive trawling activities in this area, this species population should be monitored.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is located in southern Africa, most common from Walvis Bay (Namibia) to Cape Infanta (South Africa). A single specimen was recently trawled off Mozambique, from 25°52.9'S, 34°42.7'E to 25°54.1'S, 34.41.0'E, 557-564 m depth (Mincarone and Mwale, in press).

It is possible that the distribution range stretches further east from Cape Infanta up to Mozambique where a specimen has recently been recorded from a scientific survey. Little scientific surveys are conducted on the east coast of South Africa due to limited fishing activity. There is only a localized and small-scale crustacean fishery south of the Mozambique and South Africa border. As a result, no specimens have been collected between current eastward extent of distribution range and record collected off Mozambique.
Countries occurrence:
Mozambique; Namibia; South Africa
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – western
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):675
Upper depth limit (metres):88
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This is known to be a common species but little is understood about its population levels.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is usually taken on muddy bottoms on the continental shelves and slopes at depths from 88-675 m. This species has its females maturing at 320-330 mm totall length (TL) (Fernholm 1981). According to Villanueva (1993), Myxine capensis accounted for 14.4% of the diet of 90 specimens of Octopus magnificus (Cephalopoda) caught off Namibia and South Africa; prey ranging in size from 21-31.5 cm TL.

This species burrows in muddy bottoms (Bianchi et al. 1993). It feeds mostly by scavenging on dead or disabled fish (Bianchi et al. 1993). The copulatory organ is absent for 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): There are no known direct threats to this species, but the western part of the species' distribution range directly overlaps with hake trawling activities. Fishery is destructive to this species' habitat and it is incidentally caught as by-catch. There are minimal threats in possible eastern part of range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation measures in place, but more research is needed on the species' biology, population size and impact of Hake fishery. Further scientific surveying is necessary along the eastern coastline of South Africa to verify the extent of its distribution range.

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]

Bianchi, G., Carpenter, K.E., Roux, J.-P., Molloy, F.J., Boyer, D. and Boyer, H.J. 1999. Field guide to the living marine resources of Namibia. FAO, Rome.

Bigelow, H.B. and Schroeder, W.C. 1948. Cyclostomes. In: J. Tee-Van, C.M. Breder, S.F. Hildebrand, A.E. Parr and W.C. Schroeder (eds), Fishes of the western North Atlantic, pp. 29-58. Memoir. Sears Foundation for Marine Research.

Fernholm, B. 1981. A new species of hagfish of the genus Myxine, with notes on other eastern Atlantic myxinids. Journal of Fish Biology 19: 73-82.

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: 30 June 2017).

Lloris, D. 1986. Ictiofauna demersal y aspectos biogeograficos de la costa sudoccidental de Africa (SWA/Namibia). Monografias de Zoologia Marina 1: 9-432.

Regan, C.T. 1913. A revision of the myxinoids of the genus Myxine. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 11(8): 395-398.

Regan, C.T. 1913. Notes on Myxine capensis. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12(8): 229.

Villanueva, R. 1993. Diet and mandibular growth of Octopus magnificus (Cephalopoda). South African Journal of Marine Science 13: 121-126.

Citation: Mincarone, M.M. 2011. Myxine capensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T196051A8998429. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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