African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Could the elongate yellow-orange nostrils of Anguilla bicolor McClelland, 1844 function as fishing lures?

D Tweddle, PH Skelton


The shortfin eel Anguilla bicolor has elongate, yellow nostrils tipped with orange that protrude forward above the mouth. They are a striking, highly visible feature and it is hypothesised that they function as lures to attract prey, analogous to the illicium and esca of anglerfishes and frogfishes and the lingual appendage of the alligator snapping turtle. Another possible function is as an intraspecific signalling device. The first hypothesis is favoured here.

Keywords: aquarium experiments, communication, esca, illicium, Nseleni River, photographs, shortfin eel

AJOL African Journals Online