Gulper Eel Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The gulper eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides) is a subspecies of eel that typically occurs in the temperate and tropical waters worldwide. It has an elongated body and tiny eyes. Gulper eels are found in Australia. Crustaceans make up much part of the eel’s diet. It is also known as pelican eel or umbrella-mouth gulper.

Gulper Eel Facts


  • As compared to the body, the gulper eel has an unusually large mouth. They are able to open their mouths wide open to swallow much larger prey.
  • Gulper eels reach a length of about 0.75 m (2.5 ft).
  • The lower jaws of a fish appear to be pelican which is why the eel earns its name.
  • Unlike most other fish species, the gulper eel lacks swim bladders and scales. They don’t have pelvic fins either. These are major features that fish possesses but gulper eels do not!
  • Although the eel is a deep-sea living species yet it has very small eyes.
  • There is a luminous organ at the end of the eel’s tail. The tiny eyes are set next to the snout.
  • They have got long tail which helps the fish to move underwater.

Range & Habitat

gulper eel facts
Gulper Eel
  • The gulper eel is thought to live in the Australian waters including northern Queensland, New South Wales, and northwestern West Australia.
  • They are likely to make habitats at a depth of about 500 – 3,000 meters. In the North Atlantic waters, they dive as deep as 9,800 feet.
  • Lancet fish are possibly the only predators of gulper eels.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Gulper eels have got large mouth and stomach. They rely on crustaceans. The jaws are great but teeth are fairly small.
  • The large mouth may facilitate the eel to eat as much food it can in one opening. This explains why the eel swims mostly with its mouth open. Gulper eel’s diet consists of shrimps, cephalopods, and many other small invertebrates.
  • While eating they may take in large amount of water but it is expelled through the gill slits.

Reproductive Biology

  • The reproductive behavior of the gulper eel is one of the least understood behaviors.
  • According to a study eels die soon after mating.


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