Moray Eel
Moray Eel

Description

This species of large eels is the most common in the Mediterranean Sea and was highly respected by Ancient Romans which is the basis for one of its common names: The  Roman Eel. The skin of the Moray Eel is smooth and without scales and while this species is not ornamented, there are several tropical species with distinct and beautiful ornamentation and colour patterns which sometimes leads divers to accidentally believe that these fish are snakes. Some exceed lengths of 1.5m but most of the Mediterranean species of moray eels are smaller. Although anatomi

Habitat

Found along coastal rocky reef or coral reef substrate these nocturnal and highly territorial creatures are found lurking in crevices or occupying their holes in the Mediterranean Sea but also eastern Atlantic, British Isles, Canary Islands and the Azores. There seems to always be a preference for rocky bottom areas living its life from 15m to 50m depth seldom exceeding 80m depths.

Feeding

These nocturnal ambush predators come out at night hunting fish, crayfish and cephalopods but also scavenge on carcases of dead animals or fish they might encounter. One extremely unique feature of the moray eel is how it uses its pharyngeal jaw. In essence this fish has two sets of jaws. One to bite and immobilise its prey and the pharyngeal jaw to pull its prey apart or towards its stomach depending on the prey’s size! Other fish which are equipped with pharyngeal jaws do not use it this way. One such example is the parrot fish which uses its pharyngeal jaws to grind its food. This technique the moray eel uses to feed allows it to sometimes prey on fish larger than itself!

Life History

Little is known about this fish as far as mating and propagating is concerned. They are known to spawn 60,000 eggs into open water where their planktonic transparent leptocephali hatch and grow assuming that those who reach the juvenile stage return to rocky reef or coral areas to settle and restart the cycle once more.

!!! WARNING !!!

This is a highly territorial fish accustomed to creeping up and living within crevices and holes. Do not provoke, feed or stick your hands into any bottomless holes while diving in areas where sightings of this marvelous fish have been reported! They are fiercely territorial and fishermen claim that the Moray claims what it bites! Keep calm and keep your distance. It will not go out of its way to harm you if you don’t get out of your way to harm it.

Dive Site Encounters

MS Zenobia Wreck Dive Site

Cyclops Cave Dive Site

Muraena helena Distribution Map
Muraena Helena Distribution Map
(Chance of Ecnounter Red > 0.8 Yellow > 0.2)
Moray Eel
Moray Eel

2 COMMENTS

    • All wild animals have the element of unpredictability. As scuba divers you have to ask yourself what is my finger doing near a moray eel? Keep in mind that the way we heard it was that they were feeding weener sausages to the eel an once they run out it mistook a finger for a saucage and bit it off. Never feed the wildlife, Never touch the wildlife!

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