WOLF EEL
Anarrhichthys ocellatus

Habitat: Wolf eels typically are found in caves and crevices on rocky reefs.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be more than 6 feet long.

Natural history: With a long eel-like body, a large bumpy head and sharp teeth, the wolf eel looks like a true sea monster. But, like most "monsters," they are really a sheep in wolf's clothing. Wolf eels actually are very shy and docile. They only leave their cave home to feed, preferring the shelter of their cozy den. You usually just see their heads poking out of a hole in the reef. Males and females can live together in the same cave for years. They apparently mate for life. The female lays a large egg mass, which may contain 10,000 eggs. They guard the eggs together, with only one of the happy couple leaving at a time to feed. Wolf eels have strong teeth and grinding molars to feed on hard-shelled invertebrates. They feed on crabs, sea urchins, sand dollars and snails. Juvenile wolf eels are a beautiful shade of reddish-orange. Since they live together in the same cave for years, divers have "trained" some wolf eels to leave their dens and take sea urchins by hand. They even seem to enjoy being petted, now and then.

Range: From Alaska south to San Diego, California.


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