Dorsal and anal fins margined with black: lateral line spotted with white.
A. Conger, Shaw, Gen. Zool. vol. iv. part i. p. 20. pl. 1. Turt. Brit. Faun. p. 87. Flem. Brit. An. p. 200. Muraena Conger, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 426. Block, Ichth. pl. 155. Don. Brit. Fish. vol. v. pl. 119. Conger, Will Hist. Pise. p. 111. tab. G. 6. Penn. Brit. Zool. vol. iii. p. 147. Id. (Edit. 1812). vol. iii. p. 196. Yarr. in Proceed, of Zool. Soc. (1831). p. 158.
From five to six feet: said to reach occasionally as much as ten feet, or upwards.
(Form). General form resembling that of the Common Eel: body thick, and nearly cylindrical anteriorly, compressed and tapering behind: head larger than in that species, being a little less than one-seventh of the entire length: crown flat; snout a little depressed, narrowing towards the extremity, and rather pointed: upper jaw a little the longest: both jaws with a band of sharpish card-like teeth, " forming three rows, of which those in the middle line are much the largest; numerous smaller teeth, more uniform in size, occupy the line of the vomer, but do not extend far backwards:" * lips fleshy: gape wide; not extending quite so far as a tangent to the posterior part of the orbit: eyes much larger than in the Common Eel: nostrils double; the first orifice placed a little before the eye; the second, which is tubular, at the extremity of the snout: a row of mucous pores along the upper lip; several pores also between the corner of the gape and the gill-opening: dorsal commencing a little behind the pectorals, or at about one-fifth of the entire length: vent (in a specimen measuring thirty-one inches and a half in length) about three inches before the middle: anal commencing immediately behind the vent, and extending quite to the extremity of the tail, where it unites with the dorsal (prolonged in a similar manner) to form a pointed caudal:
"B. 10; D. A. & C. 306; P. 19"†.
(Colours). Of a uniform pale brownish gray above, passing into a dirty white beneath: dorsal and anal fins whitish, margined with deep bluish black: lateral line spotted with white.
A common inhabitant of the British seas, and found on most parts of the coast in considerable abundance. Attains to a very large size: has been known to weigh- upwards of one hundred pounds. Frequents rocky ground. Is very voracious, preying on other fish and on Crustacea.
This species, which is found in the Mediterranean, has been included in the British Fauna by Berkenhout and Turton, but it is not said on what authority. It is distinguished from the last by its smaller size, and by some spots on the snout, a transverse band on the occiput, and two rows of dots on the nape, of a whitish colour*.
(5). OPHISURUS, Lacep.
Hist. Nat. des Poiss. torn. ii. p. 196. Flera. Brit. An. p. 200. Murcena Ophis, Linn. Syst. Nat. torn. i. p. 425. Bloch, Ichth. pl. 154. Berkenh. Syn. vol. i. p. 64. Ophis maculata, Turt. Brit. Faun. p. 87.
Like the last, a very doubtful native. Given as British by Berkenhout, but without any remarks. Of a whitish or silvery colour, with several longitudinal rows of dark oval spots. Length from three to four feet. Inhabits the European seas.
Whether this, or the last, be the species alluded to by Merrett and Sibbald under the name of Serpens marinus, is very doubtful. Neither is it known on what authority either of these naturalists has inserted it in the British Fauna. The 0. Serpens of Lacepede is distinguished from the 0. Ophis, by its being without spots. It also grows to a larger size, attaining the length of five or six feet. A native of the Mediterranean.