Zoology Publications from Victoria University of Wellington—Nos. 33 and 34
The genus Anguilla Shaw, the sole representative of the Family Anguillidae, has become, with the exhaustive researches of Danish scientists, the most intimately-known genus of eels. The two Atlantic species A. anguilla (L.) and A. rostrata (Le Sueur) were studied thoroughly by Johannes Schmidt over a long period of years, initiating a great deal of further work. His collections formed the basis of a definitive study of the systematics of the genus by Ege (1939), and Jespersen (1942) followed with a detailed account of the leptocephali of many of the Indo-Pacific species of the genus. A considerable amount is nevertheless still to be added, especially concerning the biology of the Southwest Pacific species which, because of limited material, was treated rather briefly by Jespersen.
Text-fig. 1.—L. Anguilla megastoma, 26.4mm total length, IFO St 56–4–3 Fig A— Lateral view, to show distribution of major vertical blood-vessels, intestine and myomeres at level of vent. Fig. B—Lateral view of head. Fig. C—Lateral view of caudal region.
Despite this widespread occurrence of so many species of Anguilla in the South Pacific only four anguillid leptocephali have ever been recorded from this area; these were from the Dana collection (see Jespersen, 1942, pp. 13–15). By contrast, nearly 1500 specimens of Anguilla larvae were taken by the Dana in the whole of the Indo-Pacific. The South Pacific area was widely explored by this vessel during the months of October, 1928, to March, 1929, and Jespersen assumes that the scarcity of Anguilla larvae in this area may have been due to the time of year when the trawling took place. The larvae described here, 12 in number, therefore make a significant addition to knowledge of the South Pacific species of Anguilla. These larvae were collected in similar depths to those of the Dana larvae and in various months of the year, so that Jespersen's assumption is not supported by the present collection.