Hydrolagus mirabilis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Chondrichthyes Chimaeriformes Chimaeridae

Scientific Name: Hydrolagus mirabilis (Collett, 1904)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Large-eyed Rabbitfish
Spanish Quimera Ojón

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Assessor(s): Dagit, D.D., Compagno, L.J.V. & Clarke, M.W.
Reviewer(s): Kulka, D.W. & Valenti, S.V. (Shark Red List Authority)
A poorly known deepwater slope species occurring at depths of 450 to 1,933 m. Known most commonly from the Northeast Atlantic on deep slopes off Iceland, Ireland, Hebrides and Scotland but also reported from the Eastern Central Atlantic off northwestern Africa and recently from Namibia. The species may be more widespread in the Atlantic than previously reported. Also known from the Gulf of Mexico and Suriname. It is likely that this species is widespread throughout the northern Atlantic and may be most abundant at deeper depths. Not presently commercially fished and no data exist on bycatch but potentially threatened by increased deepwater fishing efforts. Nothing is known of population structure, ecology and reproduction although it is likely this species shares similar life history traits with other Hydrolagus species (e.g., H. colliei). It is recommended that data be collected from all incidental captures to improve understanding of this species. It has a shallower depth range than its congeners and is therefore more vulnerable to deepwater fisheries operating within its range in the Northeast Atlantic. Heavy fishing pressure within its sampled depth range in the Eastern Atlantic gives cause for suspected past and future declines. A precautionary assessment of Near Threatened is assigned on this basis, due to concern that it may qualify for Vulnerable A4d.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Known from deepwater banks of the Northeast Atlantic off Iceland, Ireland, Scotland and the Hebrides (Whitehead et al. 1984) as well as the eastern central Atlantic off Morocco, Sahara Republic, Senegal, and Mauritania (Quero et al. 1990). Examination of two specimens recently collected off Namibia appear to be H. mirabilis (Krefft 1990). The species is likely more widespread throughout the Atlantic than previously reported. However, more specimens are needed to confirm species identification and range off western Africa. Also reported from the Gulf of Mexico (McEachran and Fechelm 1998) and off Surinam. It is rare in this region and currently known only known from a few specimens caught at depths from 450 m to over 1,000 m (Didier 2002). Based on these widespread capture records and the observation of a single individual in the Straits of Florida this species is probably widespread throughout the Northern and Central Atlantic.
Countries occurrence:
France; Iceland; Ireland; Mauritania; Morocco; Namibia; Senegal; Trinidad and Tobago; United Kingdom; Western Sahara
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – western central; Atlantic – northeast; Atlantic – northwest; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – eastern central
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No information is available on population size and structure, but based on historical capture records and the apparent wide distribution of the species it is probably relatively common in the northeast Atlantic and less common in the western and southern Atlantic.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:A deep-slope species, with a known depth range of 450 to 1,933 m generally occurring at depths greater than 800 m. Reported off Namibia at 545 to 717 m (Krefft 1990).

Oviparous, although nothing else is known of reproduction or spawning. Probably occupies rock, rubble, or muddy bottoms and feeds on a variety of benthic invertebrates and fish and shares similar life history traits with other Hydrolagus such as H. colliei.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Areas of the Northeast Atlantic, for example the Rockall Trough have been subject to a fairly rapid increase in deepwater fishing activities since the 1990s with overall concern for the sustainability of deepwater fish stocks (Gordon 2003). Since 1998 Norwegian trawlers and longliners have carried out trial and commercial fisheries in the Hatton Bank area (ICES VIb and XII) at depths between 600 and 2,000 m (throughout the sampled depth range of this species) (Kjerstad et al. 2003). There is a continuing trend of increasing deepwater fishing activities in the North Atlantic, while regulation is often lagging. Deepwater chimaeroids, like other deepsea chondrichthyans, are potentially at risk from these activities, although little species-specific information is available. Monitoring of deepwater fishing activities, including landings and discards will be essential to ensure that North Atlantic chimaeroid species are not adversely affected.

This species may be impacted by deepwater bottom fisheries, particularly in the Northeast Atlantic, where it may be caught as bycatch in trawls. Rihan et al. (2005) have also reported this species as a bycatch from bottom gillnets retrieved from 648 nets recovered during a gill net retrieval survey of Rockall and Porcupine Bank at depths of 400 to 1,300 m during August-September 2005. Evidence of significant quantities of lost and abandoned gear in these areas and of excessive discarding in these fisheries due to long soak times lead to serious concerns about the impact of ghost fishing. There is a need for the immediate introduction of effective management measures in these fisheries to control the quantities of gear being fished and soak time (Rihan et al. 2005).

Potentially threatened in the future if increased fishing effort in deepwater results in an increase of bycatch of this species. In the East central Atlantic, this species may also be taken as bycatch in trawl fisheries operating along the West African coasts. About 20 to 25 trawl vessels are currently targeting the deepwater crab Geryon maritae along the Mauritanian coast at depths of 500 to 1,200 m and occasionally down to 1,400 m (L. Camara pers. comm).

Rarely, if ever captured in the Western Central Atlantic, probably due to the lack of deepwater fisheries in this region, which may afford it some protection, although potentially at risk if deepwater fishing effort increases in this area.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Not known to be managed or regulated in any way throughout its range. A record of all incidental captures including basic data on sex, size and depth is recommended in order to obtain initial basic data on population size, structure and life history trends.

Classifications [top]

11. Marine Deep Benthic -> 11.1. Marine Deep Benthic - Continental Slope/Bathyl Zone (200-4,000m) -> 11.1.1. Hard Substrate
11. Marine Deep Benthic -> 11.1. Marine Deep Benthic - Continental Slope/Bathyl Zone (200-4,000m) -> 11.1.2. Soft Substrate
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.4. Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources -> 5.4.4. Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest]
♦ timing:Ongoing    

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Didier, D.A. 2002. Chimaeras. In: K.E. Carpenter (ed.) The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Volume 1: Introduction, mollusks, crustaceans, hagfishes, sharks, batoid fishes, and chimaeras. pp: 592–599. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fishery Purposes and American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5. FAO, Rome.

Gordon, J.D.M. 2003. The Rockall Trough, Northeast Atlantic: the cradle of deep-sea biological oceanography that is now being subjected to unsustainable fishing activity. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Science 31: 57-83.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group. Specialist Group website. Available at:

Kjerstad, M., Fossen, I. and Willemsen, H.M. 2003. Utilization of Deep-sea Sharks at Hatton Bank in the North Atlantic. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Science 31: 333-338.

Krefft, G. 1990. Chimaeridae. In: J.C. Quéro, J.C. Hureau, C. Karrer, A. Post and L. Saldanha (eds). Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic. pp:111–113. UNESCO, Paris.

McEachran, J.D. and Fechhelm, J.D. 1998. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Volume 1: Myxiniformes to Gasterosteiformes. University of Texas Press, Austin, USA.

Quero, J.C., Hureau, J.C., Karrer, C., Post, A. and Sandanha, L. (eds). 1990. Check-list of the fishes of the eastern tropical Atlantic (CLOFETA). JNICT, Lisbon; Union Européene d'Ichtyologie, Paris and UNESCO, Paris. Lisbon and Paris.

Rihan, D., Muligan, M., Roa, R. and Hareide, N. 2005. Irish Gillnet Retrieval Survey for Lost Gear MFV India Rose Rockall & Porcupine Bank August 8th - September 3rd 2005. BIM Report.

Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.L., Hureau, J.C., Nielsen, J. and Tortonese, E. (eds). 1984. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Vol 1. UNESCO, Paris

Citation: Dagit, D.D., Compagno, L.J.V. & Clarke, M.W. 2007. Hydrolagus mirabilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T63104A12604542. . Downloaded on 23 May 2018.
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