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Congrid Leptocephali in Australasian Waters with Descriptions of Conger wilsoni (Bl. and Schn.) and C. verreauxi Kaup.



Fifteen species, referred to ten genera, are present in a large collection of congrid leptocephali taken from around New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. These species are Leptocephalus Ariosoma Scheelei (Strömman), L. A. Mauritianum (Pappenheim), L. A. anago (Temm. and Schleg.), L. ?Alloconger anagoides (Bleeker), L. Conger wilsoni (Bl. and Schn.), L. C. verreauxi Kaup, L. C. cinereus cinereus Rüppell and L. Scalanago lateralis Whitley; the remaining seven, six of which are described as new species of Leptocephalus, cannot here be finally referred to known adult species but their larval pigmentation suggests that they belong to a further six genera. The adult of L. Ariosoma mauritianum spawns off both west and east Australia, that of L. Scalanago lateralis off west Australia only, while the majority of the other congrids represented in this collection probably spawn north of New Caledonia.

Conger wilsoni is a slender eel with 141–149 vertebrae, eye 1.9–3.9 per cent of total length and a dorsal origin well behind pectoral tip; C. verreauxi is more robust with 157–165 vertebrae, eye 1.2–1.9 per cent of total length and a dorsal origin over the pectoral tip.

Keys to the adult congrid genera and species in New Zealand waters and to the larvae in the southwest Pacific and Western Australia are given.