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Seaweek 2010: Oceans of Life - ours to explore; ours to restore


• Moray eels are large cosmopolitan eels of the family Muraenidae. There are approximately 200 species in 15 genera. The typical length of a moray is 1.5 m (5 ft), with the longest being the slender giant moray, at up to 4 m (13 ft), and the largest, in terms of total mass being the Giant moray, which reaches almost 10ft and can weigh over 80 pounds.

• Morays have no pectoral or ventral fins; their dorsal tail and anal fins form a single, long continous fin that begins begind the head, encircles the tail and extends midway down the belly. Their elongated scaleless bodies are coated with a clear, protective mucous layer.

• Morays constantly open and close their mouths, to allow water to move through their gills for respiration. By nature morays are not aggressive , although they can inflict a nasty bite if provoked.

• During the day, most species are reclusive and tend to hide in dark recesses. Normally they are seen with only their heads extending from holes.

• Morays are carnivorous and feed primarily on other fish, cephalopods, mollusks, and crustaceans. Morays hide in crevices in the reefs, and wait until their prey is close enough for capture. They then lunge out and clamp the prey in their strong jaws. Groupers, other morays, and barracudas are among their few predators

• The breeding season is accompanied by the laying of eggs and after fertilization, these will give birth to small and translucent larva, which drifting along with the current and the passing time, will take two years to become a grown up moray eel without any pectoral or pelvic fins adorning its body.

• Reef Check Australia identify and monitor Moray Eels within their surveys.

Interesting fact: Their eyes are rather small, morays rely on their highly developed sense of smell, lying in wait to ambush prey.

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Moray eel from GBRMPA Image Collection

Moray eel from GBRMPA Image Collection


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