Giant wrymouth (Cryptacanthodes giganteus)

Giant wrymouth specimen on a table next a felt pen to indicate its size
Giant wrymouth
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Wrymouth and eel

Caught incidentally in the commercial fishery off the outer Washington coast with otter-trawls.

Description and Range

Physical description

The giant wrymouth is an elongate, eel-like fish with a broad head that is flat on top. The body is pale reddish brown with rows of dark blotches that are tinged with yellow and violet. The dorsal and anal fins also show spots. It has a low, spiny dorsal fin that runs along the entire back. This fin includes approximately 70 spines and unites with the caudal and anal fins. This species has no pelvic fins. There are exposed scales on the rear of the body and buried scales on the front of the body. The mouth slants sharply above a ponderous lower jaw and the upper jaw extends past the eye (with mouth closed). This species has small eyes that lie near the top of its big head. The lack of pelvic fins and a pronounced upward pointing mouth are characteristic.

The giant wrymouth can grow up to at least 1.17 m (3.8 ft) in length, or 1.6 m (5 ft.) in length in Alaska.

Geographic range

The giant wrymouth ranges from the Bering Sea to Humboldt Bay, California. It is found on soft bottoms, where it creates and lives in burrows. It is found in depths from 6 to192 m (20-630 ft).