Pale Eelpout, Lycodes
Pale eelpout, Lycodes pallidus.
The pale eelpout has a moderately elongate body with a relatively long tail.
Comprising more than half the length of the fish, the tail is used as a characteristic
for identification. The pale eelpout is differentiated from other long-tailed
eelpouts by its double lateral line, and by its lack of scales on the belly.
The dorsal fin is of a uniform width down the length of the body where it becomes
continuous with the caudal fin, as does the anal fin. The pectoral fins are
slightly rounded and large, while the pelvic fins are small and tucked underneath
the body. The tail of this eelpout tapers uniformly from the base of the dorsal
fin to form a tip. Normally growing to a length of 20 cm, this fish is average
sized for the genus. Its body is usually a uniform brown, but is somewhat darker
on the belly. Juveniles have distinct dark bands running vertically from the
top of the dorsal fin to the belly.
The pale eelpout is an Arctic species that occurs in the Arctic Ocean, off the east coast of Greenland, north of Iceland, off Spitzbergen, and in the Kara Sea. Recent research has determined that the pale eelpout prefers muddy bottoms where it burrows into the substrate in search of food polychaetes, small clams, and crustaceans. How and where it spawns is unknown, but ripe females have been caught during September in the Kara Sea. Little else is known about this species.