Moray eel

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Moray eel
Temporal range: Late Miocene–Recent [1]
Moray eel
Scientific classification


See text.

Colorful moray eel from a coral reef

Moray eels are a family of eels in the family Muraenidae. Moray eels can be found all over the world. There are 200 different species in 15 genera.

Body[change | change source]

Like all eels, moray eels look like a cross between a fish and a snake.

The body is generally patterned. In some species, the inside of the mouth is also patterned.

Moray eels normally have wide jaws and large sharp teeth, but some types of Moray eel have blunt teeth which help them to eat animals that live in shells. Morays also have pharyngeal jaws inside the main jaws.

Typically, moray eels grow to a length of about 1.5 metres. The largest known moray eel is the Slender giant moray, which can reach 4 metres in length. Moray eels live in coral reefs and rocky areas, at a depth of about 200m.

Habitat[change | change source]

Gymnothorax undulatus occupying a dead patch reef, located in Kona, Hawaii

The moray eel can be found in both freshwater habitats and saltwater habitats. However most live in the sea in salt water, never entering fresh water.

Echidna nebulosa

Moray eels normally live in warmer waters, but it depends on the type of eel.

Feeding behavior[change | change source]

Morays are opportunistic, carnivorous predators[2] and feed primarily on smaller fish, crabs, and octopuses.[3]

There are not many animals that eat eels, but groupers, barracudas and sea snakes do eat them.[4] Humans also eat eels.

Relationship with humans[change | change source]

Humans eat eels, but sometimes moray eels will give people food poisoning. Moray eels are also caught to put in aquariums for people to look at. Some types of Moray eel may be considered beautiful and hard to find, in which case they will be expensive to buy.

Genera[change | change source]

  • Subfamily Muraeninae
    • Genus Diaphenchelys — 1 species
    • Genus Echidna — 11 species
    • Genus Enchelycore — 13 species
    • Genus Enchelynassa — 1 species
    • Genus Gymnomuraena — 1 species
    • Genus Gymnothorax — 125 species
    • Genus Monopenchelys — 1 species
    • Genus Muraena — 10 species
    • Genus Pseudechidna — 1 species
    • Genus Rhinomuraena — 1 species
    • Genus Strophidon — 1 species
  • Subfamily Uropterygiinae
    • Genus Anarchias — 11 species
    • Genus Channomuraena — 2 species
    • Genus Cirrimaxilla — 1 species
    • Genus Scuticaria — 2 species
    • Genus Uropterygius — 20 species

Gallery[change | change source]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2009). "Muraenidae" in FishBase. January 2009 version.
  2. Kooser, Amanda. "See a snowflake moray eel swallow a sushi snack in an extraordinary way". CNET. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  3. Young, Robert F.; Winn, Howard E. (February 2003). "Activity Patterns, Diet, and Shelter Site Use for Two Species of Moray Eels, Gymnothorax moringa and Gymnothorax vicinus, in Belize". Copeia. 2003 (1): 44–55. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2003)003[0044:APDASS]2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0045-8511. S2CID 85897128.
  4. "Moray Eel - Facts and Beyond". Biology Dictionary. 2020-07-10. Retrieved 2021-06-17.

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Gross, Miriam J.. The Moray Eel. United States: Rosen Publishing Group's PowerKids Press, 2005.
  • Purser, Phillip. Keeping Moray Eels in Aquariums. United States: T.F.H., 2005.
  • Didier, Dominique A.. Moray Eel. United States: Cherry Lake Publishing, 2014.
  • Goldish, Meish. Moray Eel: Dangerous Teeth. United Kingdom: Bearport Publishing, 2009.

Other websites[change | change source]