Dogface Witch Eel, Facciolella equatorialis
The Dogface Witch Eel, Facciolella equatorialis, whose common Spanish name is serpentina bruja, is a species in the Duckbill Eel or Nettastomatidae Family, known collectively as serpentinas in Mexico. Globally, there are only six species in the genus Facciolella, one of which one is found in Mexican waters, this one from the Pacific.
The Dogface Witch Eels have very elongated cylindrical slender bodies. They have a brown coloration that transitions to tan mid-body. They are covered with small black dots dorsally which are very dense on their upper snout, under their eyes, and on their gill covers. Their head is narrow with a long pointed snout, well-developed eyes, projecting jaws, and a large toothy mouth. Their anal and dorsal fins are confluent with their caudal fin. Their pectoral fins are small. Their tail is slender, attenuated, very pointed, and greater than 50% of total body length; it is often broken off and regenerated. Their lateral line is complete.
The Dogface Witch Eels are a bathypelagic and relatively deep water species found at depths between 210 and 3,280 feet. They reach a maximum length of 90 cm (35 inches). They feed on small deep sea crustaceans and fish. They are a poorly studied species and very little is known about their behavioral patterns. They are also difficult to identify.
In Mexican waters the Dogface Witch Eel is virtually unknown and undocumented. They are believed to be found in all Mexican waters of the Pacific but documented collections are exceedingly rare.
The Dogface Witch Eels are of limited interest to most.
Dogface Witch Eel, Facciolella equatorialis. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater Los Cabos area, Baja California Sur, June 2012. Length: 38 cm (15 inches); Tail 76%. Identification courtesy of H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA.