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All nine described snipe eel species inhabit relatively deep midwaters. In the Atlantic off North America, just one snipe eel, Nemichthys scolopaceus (Slender Snipe Eel), enters shelf waters. Nemichthys species have filamentous tails and a lateral line consisting of three rows of pores. They may have as many as 750 vertebrae. Nemichthys scolopaceus is brownish or gray with darker brown fine speckling. For technical descriptions, see Charter (1996) and the online Fishes of the NE Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
In the western Atlantic, this species is found from Nova Scotia (Canada) and the northern Gulf of Mexico to Brazil and in the eastern Pacific it is found from British Columbia (Canada) to Peru, including the Gulf of California, but the species is found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters. The Slender Snipe Eel is usually found between 200-500 m depth, but sometimes much deeper, and it occasionally occurs in shallower waters in the northern part of its range. (Castle 1986; Robins and Ray 1986; Charter 1996)
The Slender Snipe Eel is restricted to the ocean throughout its life cycle, unlike some other eels. At maturity, both sexes lose their teeth, although only males lose them all. These eels mature in deep water, but the immature stages (leptocephali) are found in shallow water near the shore. These eels may be semelparous, i.e., dying after spawning once. (Finch 1990 and references therein) Charter (1996) describes the leptocephali of this and other snipe eels.