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Yellow moray eel

Scientific name: Gymnothorax flavimarginatus
Phylum Vertebrate

Distribution: This moray eel is from the family Muraenidae, There are approximately 200 species in 15 genera. They can be found in the Southwest Pacific, New Zealand and southern Australia.at depths down to 150 m.

Description: Coloration is yellowish, densely mottled with dark brown, with the front of the head purplish grey and the posterior margins of fins yellow-green. The eyes are reddish and the gill opening is a black blotch. Juveniles sometimes are bright yellow with brown blotches. It is generally reef-associated and strictly marine. Most species lack pectoral and pelvic fins, adding to their snake-like appearance.

Their eyes are rather small; morays rely on their highly developed sense of smell, lying in wait to ambush prey. Their jaws are wide, with a snout that protrudes forward. They possess large teeth, designed to tear flesh as opposed to holding or chewing. Morays have sometimes been described as vicious or ill-tempered. In fact, morays are shy and secretive, and they only attack humans in self-defense

Ecology: The yellow moray is found along drop-offs in coral or rocky areas of reef flats and protected shorelines to seaward reefs in holes and crevices. Morays are carnivorous feeding mainly on crabs and fish. The typical length of yellow moray is 1.5 m with the largest in other species being the slender giant moray, measuring up to 4 m. Moray eels have a second set of jaws in their throat called pharyngeal jaws, which also possess teeth.

When feeding, morays launch these jaws to grasp struggling prey and transport it into the throat and down to the rest of the digestive system. Moray eels are the only known type of animal that uses pharyngeal jaws to actively capture and restrain prey. Morays are capable of inflicting serious wounds to humans.

Image by le congre from Flickr

Interesting facts: In the December 2006 issue of the journal Public Library of Science Biology, a team of biologists announced the discovery of interspecies cooperative hunting involving morays. The biologists,, discovered that a species of reef-associated grouper often recruited morays to aid them while hunting for food. This is the first discovery of cooperation between fish in general.

Yellow moray eel


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