Tag Archive: MORAY EELS

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 animaldiversity.org/accounts/Gymnothorax_mordax/

fishbase www.fishbase.org/summary/Gymnothorax-mordax.html

Ron’s WordPress Shortlink  https://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1T8

Ron’s flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/2996881475/in/album-72157633406973974/


PHYLUM  Chorada

CLASS     Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

ORDER    Anguilliformes (Eels and morays)

FAMILY    Muraenidae (Moray eels)

GENUS/SPECIES   Gymnothorax favagineus



This diverse group is noted for large mouths with numerous teeth, small gill openings, and the absence of pectoral and pelvic fins.  The anal and dorsal fins extend along much of the body and are continuous with the caudal fin. Gill openings are small and roundish and situated on the side of the head.

G. favagineus grows to 3 m, thus it is one of the two largest of Indo-Pacific moray eels. Spots variable between individuals and size.  The surface is covered with dark spots the size of their eye that form a honeycomb pattern. Some individuals colored almost totally black (those found in turbid water).    



Red Sea, East. Africa to Papua, New Guinea and Great Barrier Reef.  Usually rests in  reef flat rubble and outer reef slopes of  continental reefs, 1–45 m (3-150) in depth. Often found in crevasses with cleaner wrasses or cleaner shrimps.

                                   PHOTO BELOW: Symbiotic relationship with a cleaner shrimp.  


Predator upon cephalopods, crustaceans and small fishes.



Leptocephalus larvae.



Dark Cluster  PR22  



Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/sets/72157608402401040/

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes),  Anguilliformes (Eels and morays),  Muraenidae (Moray eels)

Rhinomuraena quaesita

DISTRIBUTION: Indo-Pacific from East Africa to the Tuamota Archipelago (French Polynesia).

HABITAT: Lagoons and associated reefs at depths up to 57 m.

APPEARANCE: Long thin body and high dorsal fins. Has three fleshy tentacles on the tip of its lower jaw, a single fleshy pointed projection at the tip of its snout, and tubular anterior nostrils ending in gaudy, fanlike expansions. Juveniles are black with a yellow dorsal fin, males are mostly blue, and females are mostly yellow. Length up to 130 cm (51 in).

DIET: Mostly small fishes, some invertebrates.

REPRODUCTION and DEVELOPMENT: External fertilization nonguarder.  R. quaesita is a protandrous hermaphrodite, i.e., functioning males reverse sex to become females.  It is the only moray that undergoes abrupt changes in coloration and sex.  Protandry is diagnosed based on coloration, but not confirmed.

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY May have lifespan up to 20 years.

REMARKS: The ribbon eel buries itself in sand or hides in rocks or reefs, sometimes with head protruding, lying in wait or emerging to hunt for small fish. Like all morays, it rests with mouth open, displaying sharp teeth that appear ready for use. Actually, ribbon eels are among the least aggressive of morays, the gaping mouth simply aiding breathing by allowing oxygenated water to enter and pass over the gills.

flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/4405139265/in/set-72157608402401040/

WORDPRESS SHORTLINK  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-o0

Gymnomuraena zebra (Muraenidae) Morays

DISTRIBUTION: Indo-Pacific including the Galápagos Islands. Habitat: Sandy and rocky-bottomed substrates. In reef crevices and beneath ledges of exposed seaward reef flats and seaward slopes from 2–40 m.

DIET: Primarily crabs. Also preys on other crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins. This species’ close-set, pebble-like teeth are used to crush its hard-shelled prey.

APPEARANCE: Length to 1.5 m. Easily recognized by its zebra striping; usually dark brown to black with numerous narrow white bars encircling head, body and fins.  Snout very blunt.

DIET: Primarily crabs.  Also preys on other crustaceans, mollusks, and sea urchins. This species’ close-set, pebble-like teeth are used to crush its hard-shelled prey.     


WORDPRESS SHORTLINK:  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-7Y

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