Moray Eel

Moray Eel

There are about 200 different species of moray eel and their skin colors are as varied as the rainbow. Typically moray eels are 1.5 meters (5 ft) long, that’s the size of your average teenager. But, the some moray eel species grow up to 4 meters long, twice the size of an adult human male! You may be thinking that our sea creature friends are snakes, not so, moray eels have a dorsal fin (like a dolphin?) which is much flatter than a dolphin’s. The fin runs from the back of the moray eels head all the way down the back. Most moray eel species differ from sea creatures as they have no side fins. Moray eels are sometimes described as vicious or ill-tempered because they constantly come in contact with humans and inflict minor wounds. In truth, moray eels are very secretive and most related injuries are caused by acts of self-defense. The creatures usually avoid humans and swim for cover.

Moray eels have poor vision and hearing senses, so they rely heavily on smell to locate prey. Moray eels are often found amongst coral reefs and lurking in crevices at the sea floor. Their usual hunting method involves hiding in a crevice and with quick reflexes pouncing on passing fish. It's quite rare to see moray eels swimming in open water during the day (like in our picture galley) as they are nocturnal.

The moray eel lives in tropical areas of the sea, this creature likes to hunt in the night, the moray eel likes to eat dead fish, octopus and other crustaceans. Moray eels are sometimes they are called painted eels because of the bright coloration of certain species. The skin of morays is thick and lacks scales, and most species have low dorsal (top) fins and lack pectoral and pelvic fins. Green moray eels are actually blue, but a slimy yellow coating on their bodies makes them appear green. The slime protects these common tropical eels as they wiggle through jagged caves and rocky crevices. They come out at night to feed, but prefer small spaces and hiding places in rocks and caves during the day.

Because most moray eels have low dorsal (top) fins and lack pectoral and pelvic fins, they do not have a great amount of lateral stability. It is not uncommon to see moray eels lying or drifting on their sides or even upside down.
Moray eels have a nasty reputation among divers exploring reef areas. Generally, they are not known to be aggressive to divers unless disturbed or frightened. A mistake that some divers make is to use rocky areas as a hand-hold, which may turn out to be home to several moray eels. Such an action may frighten a moray eel to lash out and bite in self-defense. Like many other "dangerous" sea creatures, they usually do not bite unless first provoked.

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