The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.
Ophichthys colubrinus, Boddaert.
(Pl. viii., fig. 3.)
Ophichthys colubrinus, Boddaert, Neue Nord. Beytr. (Pallas's), ii., 1781, p. 56, pl. ii., fig. 3; Quoy & Gaim., Voy. Uran., I., p. 243, pl. xlv., fig. 2.
The three examples obtained agree in having the transverse bands widely interrupted beneath, so that in reality they are only half-bands adorning the dorsal surface. In some examples the bands are nearly as wide as the interspaces, in ours they are very narrow, being but one-sixth the width of the interspaces. There is no dark spot between the bands as found in some specimens, and figured by Quoy and Gaimard.
Wyatt Gill* describes how eels live in holes in the coral and attain formidable dimensions; he also gives a very recognisable illustration of a typical example of this species.
The native name is " Boureriva."
Muræna Formosa, Bleeker.
Muræna formosa, Bleeker, Ned. Tydschr. Dierk., ii., p. 51; Atlas Ichth., p. 94, pl. clxxiv., fig. 1.
In its general form and proportions, the single specimen secured, approaches most nearly to this species, but of its absolute identity I cannot be certain. The colouration and general pattern agree well with Bleeker's figure of the adult, and our example exhibits the black spot at the angle of the mouth, and the dark blotch on page 196the gill-opening, which are stated to be of value in determining the species. Two examples in the British Museum are from Ceram and Amboyna respectively.
At Funafuti this eel is called "Foussi" or "Poussi."
Muræna buroensis, Bleeker.
Murcena buroensis, Bleeker, Nat. Tydschr. Ned. Ind., xiii, p. 79; Atlas Ichth., p. 105, pl. clxxv., fig. 2.
A smaller eel is with some hesitancy assigned to this species; while its general characteristics agree with the description, the colour is slightly different. As, however, the colouration in the Mursenidæ varies much according to age or other conditions, it is not of such specific value as has unfortunately been relied upon to determine the many described species. Our example, preserved in spirits, is of a greenish-brown colour, the dorsal surface including the fin and the sides from head to tail closely punctated with black, none of the dots being as large as a pin's head.
The ventral surface especially anteriorly is immaculate, posteriorly the spots descend, and the last inch or so of the tail, including the surrounding fin, is dotted like the upper surface.
It would appear that the Funafuti native name for an eel is "Poussi" ("Foussi"), this species being distinguished as "Poussi-kenna." Eels were so exceedingly numerous among the reefs round the island, that the native boys used to secure them by beating them with a palm leaf stem as they swam in the water. The three species were obtained in this manner. Eels were also caught in the rock pools by means of hoop nets,
* Gill—Life in the Southern Isles, 1876, p. 279.