Prior to 2010, the eels of British Columbia had been poorly studied and only 6 species of eels and eel-like fishes were known from our coastal waters. Two species of cutthroat eel (Histiobranchus bathybius and Synaphobranchus affinis) were expected to appear here because they range from the west coast of the contiguous United States to Alaska, but as of February 2020, neither species has been discovered in British Columbia.
Kamikawa and Stevenson (2010) led the charge with the publication of range records for Aldrovandia oleosa, including those from British Columbia. Their new records from 819-2014 m off California and British Columbia represent a range extension of 11,000 km from the nearest historic records in the western central Pacific Ocean.
Hanke and Roias (2012) announced the discovery of two duck-billed eel species in British Columbia. As of January 2020, only one specimen of Venefica ocella has been found in BC waters, off the southern end of Haida Gwaii at 1669 m. Five specimens of V. tentaculata have been found at depths of 1757 to 1869 m, from northwest of Haida Gwaii to Vancouver Island. These specimens extend the range of the genus at least 900 km north in the eastern North Pacific Ocean and suggest these eels also range north into Alaska.
Hanke et al. (2014) added another 4 new species to the fish fauna of British Columbia, and updated the known ranges of another 4 species. The Snub-nosed Spiny Eel, Notacanthus chemnitzii, had been caught repeatedly in British Columbia, and had been noted in several checklists (Gillespie 1993, Love et al. 2005), but details of the species’ range, and the depths it inhabits (1480 to 2400 m) along our entire coastline went unpublished until 2014. The first specimen of Synaphobranchus brevidorsalis for British Columbia was caught in 2006 at 1751 m off the north end of Vancouver Island and is significant as the first record for the North Pacific. Nemichthys larseni, the Pale Snipe Eel, was caught roughly 18.5 km inside the Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone at a maximum depth of 300 m, and to date is the only specimen from British Columbia. Hanke et al. (2014) also extended the range of Cyema atrum (the Bobtail Eel) north from Oregon to British Columbia with the 2006 collection of a single specimen from 1890 m off the north end of Vancouver Island.
There have been no other eel species discovered in British Columbia waters since 2014, and below is the list of 13 spiny eel, gulper eel and true eel species known to exist off here (as of February 2020):