Moray eels are large cosmopolitan eels of the family
are approximately 200 species in 15 genera. The typical length for a moray
is 1.5m (5 feet), with the largest being the slender giant moray, Strophidon
sathete, at up to 4 m (13 feet). Oceans features two of the most interesting
of the moray species - the green moray and the purplemouth moray.
Moray eels are not an endangered species, but their ocean homes continue to
be threatened with the effects of pollution. To learn more about ocean
Moray eels frequent tropical and subtropical coral reefs to depths of 200
m, where they spend most of their time concealed inside crevices and
alcoves. They secrete a protective mucus over their scale less skin that contains a toxin in some species. Their small circular gills, located on the
flanks far posterior to the mouth, require the moray eel to maintain a gape
in order to facilitate respiration.
The dorsal fin extends from just behind the head, along the back and joins
seamlessly with the caudal and anal fin. 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 bodies are patterned, camouflage also being present inside the mouth.
Their jaws are wide, with a snout that protrudes forward. They possess large
teeth, designed to tear flesh as opposed to holding or chewing. They are
capable of inflicting serious wounds to humans.
Morays are carnivorous and feed primarily on other fish, cephalopods,
mollusks, and crustaceans. Groupers, other moray eels, and barracudas are
among their few predators. There is a commercial fishery for several
species, but some have been known to cause ciguatera fish poisoning. Morays
hide in crevices in the reefs, and wait until their prey is close enough for
capture. They then jump out and clamp the prey in their strong jaws.