Moray eels are found throughout the world and are recognized by their distinctive serpentine appearance and brown color. Explore more facts about moray eels in this article.
Appearance and anatomy
Moray eels have elongated thin bodies that makes them have resemblance with snakes. But these are a species of fish.
They have a flat tail elongated bodies that varying from 10 cm to 10 meters in length. They have large eyes, large mouth and large teeth.
The smallest moray eel is Snyder’s moray (Anarchias leucurus), whose length is 11.5 cm. While the largest is the Giant moray (Gymnothorax javanicus), which measures 3 meters and weighs about 10 kg.
The sleekest moray eel that is most easily mistaken for a snake is the slender giant moray (Strophidon sathete) whose length can reach 4 meters.
There are about 200 different species of Moray eels.
Moray’s skin produces a large amount of mucus over their scaleless skin. The mucus protects the skin from abrasion against rocks.
Unlike most fish, the Moray does not use suction to pull the prey in. They have two sets of jaws. The external jaws are used to grip the prey. The internal jaws (pharyngeal jaws) transport the prey into the throat.
Their eyesight is poor but they have a good sense of smell. They rely on their sense of smell heavily for hunting prey.
Where to find Moray eels
Moray eels are usually found in the deep and shallow waters of tropical and subtropical regions. The largest eel population can be found near coral reefs.
They are rarely found on near the shores, and prefer to stay in deep crevices between the rocks and corals of the seabed.
Since they spend most of their time hiding in the crevices, they can stay out of sight of predators. This also allows them to ambush an unsuspecting prey.
They usually like to live alone, but sometimes they can also be found in pairs sharing a crevice. They rest during the day in their crevice and hunt during the night.
They can also hunt in groups.
Morays are dominant predators. They mainly eat fish, molluscs, squids, cuttlefish and crustaceans, such as crabs.
Larger fish can prey on moray eels. These include barracuda and sharks. They are also threatened by human activity.
Reproduction and growth
Morays usually meet by the end of summer when the water is warm.
The fertilization in Moray eel is oviparous, which means that the ovules and sperm are fertilized outside the uterus. This process is known as spawning.
They can release more than 10,000 eggs at a time, which become larvae. It can take up to a year until it’s large enough to swim on its own.
Interaction with humans
The moray can inflict a very bad wound if it decides to bite in self-defense.
Some humans who try to feed them get bitten because of the poor eye-sight of the Muray eel. They are unable to tell where the feed ends and where the hand begins.