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Wolf-eel Anarrhichthys ocellatus


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credit: Alaska Fisheries Science Center

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Family: Anarhichadidae, Wolffishes view all from this family

Description The wolf eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus) is a member of the family Anarhichadidae together with the wolffishes of the genus Anarhichas. The wolf eel is monotypic within the genus Anarrhichthys. This superficially eel-like fish feeds on crustaceans, sea urchins, mussels, clams and some fishes, crushing them with its strong jaws. It can grow to be 203 centimetres (80 in), 18.6 kilograms (41 lb), and is found in the northern Pacific Ocean, ranging from the Sea of Japan and the Aleutian Islands to northern California. The wolf eel makes its home on rocky reefs or stony bottom shelves from shallow to moderate depths, picking a territory in a crevice, den or lair in the rocks.

Large wolf eels are curious and friendly and are rarely aggressive but are capable of inflicting painful bites on humans. They have edible, tasty white meat. Milton Love notes, "They are good to eat and some northwest Native American tribes reserved this species for tribal healers."

Dimensions Up to 6'8" (2 m).

Warning If molested, these fish may bite and cause serious wounds.

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows, Open ocean.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.