Shortfin spiny eel (Notacanthus bonaparte)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



Notacanthus bonapartei has an elongate and slender body tapering at the tail end. It may reach up to 26 cm in length. It has a short snout but a relatively elongate head. The mouth is on the underside. The dorsal fin consists of a small central series of up to 9 short and hard spines. The anal fin is long and has up to 14 spines. Notacanthus bonapartei is pale grey to pink in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found off the north-west coasts of Scotland and the west coasts of Ireland.

Global distribution



The shortfin spiny eel is a benthopelagic species usually found at depths of several hundred metres or more.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Elongate body up to 26 cm in length.
  • It has a short snout.
  • Teeth of lower jaw in a single row.
  • Up to 9 short and hard dorsal spines.
  • Pale grey to pink in colour.

Additional information

Notacanthus bonapartei can be best distinguished from the snobnosed spiny eel Notacanthus chemnitzii by having only one row of teeth in the lower jaw, by being pale grey to pink in colour and by having a greater head length than maximum body depth.

Listed by

- none -


  1. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  2. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  3. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2023. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2023-09-21


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Notacanthus bonaparte Shortfin spiny eel. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21-09-2023]. Available from:

Last Updated: 02/06/2008