Anguila ciega (Ophisternon infernale)

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Anguila ciega, head detail
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Anguila ciega fact file

Anguila ciega description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassActinopterygii
OrderSynbranchiformes
FamilySynbranchidae
GenusOphisternon (1)

Like many cave-dwelling species, the Anguila ciega (Ophisternon infernale), otherwise known as the blind swamp eel, has lost its eyes and pigmentation, which are of no use in the dark depths of a cave (3). Instead, this fish has a large number of sensitive pores on its long, bulb-shaped head to detect environmental stimuli (2) (3). This is a very elongate fish with an exceptionally long tail, giving it a somewhat worm-like appearance (2).

Also known as
Blind swamp eel.
Spanish
Anguila Ciega.
Size
Length: up to at least 32.5 cm (2)
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Anguila ciega biology

The Anguila ciega builds mucus-lined burrows in organic rich sediments within the freshwater part of the aquifer. This species is able to tolerate low oxygen concentration levels and can even breathe atmospheric oxygen. The diet is thought to primarily comprise stygobitic shrimp (Creaseria morleyi), and reproduction is reportedly oviparous, or egg-laying (2).

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Anguila ciega range

The Anguila ciega occurs in central and northern Yucatan peninsula, Mexico (3).

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Anguila ciega habitat

The Anguila ciega is found in freshwater limestone caves and sinkholes (2).

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Anguila ciega status

The Anguila ciega is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Anguila ciega threats

The main threats to this species are various forms of water pollution caused by humans. In rural areas sewage is rarely treated before being discarded, and industrial and domestic waste is sometimes disposed of in caves. Another threat comes from over-harvesting of freshwater, which may lead to saline waters creeping into the normally freshwater zone. The human population of the Yucatan peninsula is growing, so a greater and greater strain on water resources can be expected in the future. Another potential threat is the modification and/or the intensive use of this fish’s habitat by humans for recreational or tourism purposes (2).

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Anguila ciega conservation

There are currently no conservation measures targeting the Anguila ciega.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the Anguila ciega: 

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Aquifer
An underground layer of rock and sand that contains water.
Oviparous
Method of reproduction in which eggs are laid and embryos develop outside of the mother’s body.
Saline waters
Containing salt.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Anchialine Caves and Cave Fauna of the World (January, 2007)
    http://www.tamug.edu/cavebiology/fauna/bonyfish/O_infernale.html
  3. Romero, A. (2009) Cave Biology: Life in Darkness, Cambridge University Press, UK.
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Image credit

Anguila ciega, head detail  
Anguila ciega, head detail

© Dr. Thomas M. Iliffe

Dr. Thomas M. Iliffe
Department of Marine Biology
Texas A&M University at Galveston
5007 Ave. U
Galveston
TX
77551
United States of America
iliffe@cavebiology.com
http://www.cavebiology.com

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