Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anguilliformes (Eels and morays)
Family: Muraenidae (Moray eels)

Gymnothorax mordax 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Color is dark brown to green, mottled. The is somewhat compressed and has no pectoral fins
(all eels lack pelvic fins)..

Length up to 1.5 m (5 ft)

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT: Found from Point Conception to south Baja California in rocky subtidal areas diurnally resting in crevices or holes with their head usually protruding. Depth 6–40 m, typically 0.6–20 m.

DIET IN THE WILD: Feeds nocturnally upon crustaceans, octopuses and fishes. Prey is detected by smell.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: They can live up to 30 years.


REMARKS: Morays constantly open and close their mouth. They do this to aid respiration. It is not a threat display. California Moray bites can cause serious lacerations, and may be unprovoked.

Much of its time they hiding in holes and crevices amongst the rocks on the ocean floor. They are able to remain out of sight from predators and are also able to ambush any unsuspecting prey that passes.

California Morays may be eaten but some species of Moray are poisonous.


California Academy of Sciences, Steinhart Aquarium 2017

Pacific Coast Fishes Eschmeyer, Herald and Hammann page 64

More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes of the Pacific Coast, Milton Love 1996 pages 83-84

Animal Diversity Web


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