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



An earlier account (Castle, 1963) describes the development of the two species of the genus Gnathophis (Congridae) in Australasian waters from a large collection of over 1,000 specimens of various eel larvae assembled from west and east Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. The gnathophid leptocephali in this collection number some 250 while another 250 are larvae of other genera of congrid eels. These congrid leptocephali therefore make up almost half of the total collection. This paper describes the balance of the congrid larvae which are referred to ten genera and 15 species. Six of these species cannot with finality be assigned to any particular adult species or to any known species of Leptocephalus and are described as distinctive congrid larvae. In this study it quickly became obvious that there is an inadequate knowledge of the Indo-Pacific congrid fauna. The absence of information on vertebral counts for most adult species often prevented final identification of larvae. The adults of the two species of Conger in New Zealand waters are relatively common but are in need of definitive descriptions to complete the knowledge of the systematics of the New Zealand Congridae which has already been initiated (Castle, 1960, 1963).

I am greatly indebted to the following institutions for the loan of material:—the Centre d'Océanographie do l'Institut Français d'Océanie, Nouméa, New Caledonia; the C.S.I.R.O. Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, Cronulla, N.S.W., Australia; the Australian Museum, Sydney; the Western Australian Museum, page 2 Perth; the Otago, Canterbury and Dominion Museums. I also wish to thank Professor L. R. Richardson, Department of Zoology, for his valuable suggestions. All larval type material described here is deposited with the Centre d'Océ anographie de l'lnstitut Français d'Océanie in Nouméa, New Caledonia.