Scolecenchelys breviceps

Shorthead Worm Eel
Scolecenchelys breviceps
Scolecenchelys breviceps


Temperate Australasia


Long and thin with a brown-green back and pale belly. It remains buried under sediment during the day and moves about at night looking for prey. This animal is interesting to watch when foraging over sand. It probes deeply in the sediment with its sharply pointed tail until it contacts an alpheid or ghost shrimp and then twists around and follows the tail with the head to locate the prey.The several species of worm-eel in southern Australian waters differ from the serpent eel by lacking a pectoral fin


Max Size: 60 cm

Sea Temperature Range: 11.1-19.7°C

Depth: 0-70m

Habitat Generalization Index: N/A

Also referred to as the SGI (Species Generalisation Index), this describes the habitat niche breadth of the species. Species with values less than 15 are found in a relatively narrow range of reef habitat types (specialists), while those over 25 may be found on most hard substrates within their range (generalists). Learn more here.

Conservation and Rarity

IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Occurrence: Infrequent (1.7% of sites)

Occurrence describes how often the species is found on surveys within its distribution. It is calculated as the % of reef sites surveyed by RLS divers across all the ecoregions in which the species has been observed

Abundance: Solitary (1 per transect)

Abundance is calculated as the average number of individuals recorded per RLS transect, where present.

Edit by: GJ Edgar. 2008. Australian Marine Life. New Holland, Sydney