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15, Dec, 2015

Moray Eel

Posted in featured, Latest News, Marine Life by elaine

There are approximately 200 species of Moray eels (Muraenidae), who are virtually exclusively marine dwellers. However several species are seen in brackish water, with also a few living in fresh water.

Here in Thailand we have an abundance of several species of Moray Eels. So if you’ve never seen these amazing eels, now is the time to book your dive and let Scubafish show you all about them.

Moray Eels range from 11.5cm to 4m depending on the species. We are lucky enough to have the largest of these, namely, Giant Morays (Gymnothorax Javanicus) in plentiful supply on all our dive sites. Giant Morays really can get huge and weight up to 30kg. To see them swimming free is pretty spectacular.


Honeycombe Moray Eel


Moray Eel facts

  • They have poor eyesight so rely on a highly developed sense of smell to hunt.


  • Their one long fin extending the entire body is actually a dorsal, caudal and anal fin seamlessly joined together.


  • They have a false reputation of being aggressive but are very peaceful. Although will defend their burrow if disturbed.


  • They have a second set of jaws hidden in the throat used for catching prey and moving it to the digestive system.


  • They have few predators including grouper, barracuda and sea snakes.


  • They can live from 6-36 years, depending on species.


    Yellow Ribbon Eel with a black background


    Liquid Lense course student - Kaew - photographing a Moray Eel - Muraenidae


    Moray Eel Bad Reputation

    The Moray Eels aggressive reputation, really comes from the fact they continuously open and close their mouths in a gaping fashion. This behaviour has nothing to do with aggression but merely to maintain a flow of water over their relatively small gills and facilitate respiration.


    Giant Moray Eels - Gymnothorax javanicus - being cleaned


    Male, Female or Both?

    Scientific studies have shown hermaproditism in Moray Eels. Some are male but later becoming female and others are both male and female and can reproduce with either sex. They take 3 years to reach sexual maturity.

    Mating begins when water temperatures reach their highest and they begin sexual posturing in the form of gaping widely. The Morays will wrap each others’ long bodies together, either as a couple or two males and a female. They can simultaneously release sperm and eggs in the act of fertilisation, which signals the end of their relationship. Or, are also know for the females to release eggs and the males later fertilise them.

    Moray Eels are totally self sufficient when they hatch from eggs after 30-45 day gestation period. They initially take the form of larvae in the open ocean but after about 8 months, swim onto the reef to begin life as a Moray Eel.


    Toxic Moray Eel

    Morays Eels are toxic as a result of toxic dinoflagellate which is accumulated up through the food chain, of which moray eels are top. Although they are fished, they are not eaten for this reason. This fact was apparently the cause of death for King Henry I of England, who expired shortly after feasting on a moray eel. In this respect, Moray Eels are not regarded as endangered.

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