It gets its name from its large, gaping mouth, with which it can swallow prey that is bigger than itself. Because it lives in the deepest parts of the ocean, it isn't very well-studied.
“These fish have long, soft bodies with extremely large mouths relative to their body size. They can be seen year-round in the deep, dark areas of the ocean.
The pelican eel has no scales. Their small eyes are near the front of their mouths, and their bioluminescent tail is used to attract prey. A deep-sea fish, they are rarely seen by humans.
These fish have extraordinarily large mouths, which allows them to swallow huge amounts of food at one time or even consume prey much bigger than themselves. Because food is scarce in the deep ocean, this tactic gives them a better chance of survival.”
"This eel has a giant sack-like mouth and a long, soft thin body with no scales. The tip of its tail has a luminescent organ which it is thought to use to attract prey.
[Eats Whenever It Can]
Because there is so little life at the depths of the ocean, this eel doesn't know when the next opportunity to feed will come. This is why it developed its giant sack-like mouth in order to eat much more food in a single meal.
It has small eyes located on the tip of this giant mouth."
Pelican eels tend to float around in large, loose groups without moving very much. In the first game, they don't respond to anything except for the Underwater Pen, which unlocks their in-game information. In the second game, however, they are enthusiastic about being offered food, which is how the player can get their trivia.
- Another creature that responds to the underwater pen and nothing else in the first Endless Ocean game is the fanfin, which lives in the same deep-sea region as the pelican eel.
- The notes on the pelican eel's biology from both games are largely correct. It has no scales, and the tip of its tail is decorated with a small light-emitting organ. Its tiny eyes are located at the tip of the snout.
- Both games report that the pelican eel's expandable mouth and stomach give it the ability to eat huge amounts of food at a time, which is a good survival tactic to have when food is usually very scarce. This is true. However, even though it is capable of eating prey larger than itself, examination of stomach contents has proved that it largely targets smaller crustaceans, as well as small squid and fish.
- While the pelican eel was once thought to be a "sit-and-wait" kind of hunter, using its luminous tail to lure in prey, unique footage captured in the year 2018 showed a wild pelican eel actively pursuing small fish.
- Though both games are accurate in giving the pelican eel a deep-sea habitat, neither of them are quite deep enough. The pelican eel is regularly captured from depths below 3200 feet (1000 meters) below sea level, depths that neither game allows the player to explore.
- The pelican eel's unique appearance has given rise to a large number of alternate common names, including gulper eel, pelican gulper eel, big-mouth gulper, deep-sea gulper, and umbrellamouth gulper.
- Fishes of Australia
- Australian Museum
- Marine Species Identification Portal
- Practical Fishkeeping
- Sea and Sky
- "The Biology of Eurypharynx pelecanoides (Pisces, Eurypharyngidae)"; Jørgen G. Nielsen, E. Bertelsen, Åse Jespersen
- Science Magazine
- IUCN Red List
- Our Breathing Planet
- Animal Diversity Web (Classification)