Tag: Moray Eels (Muraenidae)

Eels (Anguilliformes) are a family of elongated, scaleless fish consisting of 4 suborders. By far the most common group found in local waters those belonging to the suborder Muraenidae - Moray Eels.

Morays are the only animal species to actively use a secondary set of jaws which are located in the throat (pharyngeal jaws) for capturing prey.

In local waters, Moray species range from the tiny, 30cm Palechin Moray (Gymnothorax Herrei), to the aptly named Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus).

Although there are a few unrelated species which share a similar appearance to Morays, the Morays themselves are easy to recognize.

Their main distinguishing features are an elongated, snake-like body, uninterrupted dorsal fin which begins from behind the head and terminates at the tail.

Relying mainly on their excellent sense of smell, they have distinctively elongated nostrils (also known as nares), whilst their eyes are generally very small in relation to their body size.

They lack pectoral fins and a lateral line along the body, although there are distinctive pores around the jaw and snout which serve this function.

The gills differ from most other fish in that the openings are circular in appearance and require the Moray to continuously open and close its mouth to aid respiration.

Most Morays are powerful carnivores and will eat almost anything they can fit into their mouth, including fish, crustaceans and even other Morays. They are primarily ambush predators, however they will sometimes leave their resting spots in order to seek out prey in small holes or crevices.

Eels (Anguilliformes) are a family of elongated, scaleless fish consisting of 4 suborders. By far the most common group found in local waters those belonging to the suborder Muraenidae - Moray Eels.

Morays are the only animal species to actively use a secondary set of jaws which are located in the throat (pharyngeal jaws) for capturing prey.

In local waters, Moray species range from the tiny, 30cm Palechin Moray (Gymnothorax Herrei), to the aptly named Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus).

Although there are a few unrelated species which share a similar appearance to Morays, the Morays themselves are easy to recognize.

Their main distinguishing features are an elongated, snake-like body, uninterrupted dorsal fin which begins from behind the head and terminates at the tail.

Relying mainly on their excellent sense of smell, they have distinctively elongated nostrils (also known as nares), whilst their eyes are generally very small in relation to their body size.

They lack pectoral fins and a lateral line along the body, although there are distinctive pores around the jaw and snout which serve this function.

The gills differ from most other fish in that the openings are circular in appearance and require the Moray to continuously open and close its mouth to aid respiration.

Most Morays are powerful carnivores and will eat almost anything they can fit into their mouth, including fish, crustaceans and even other Morays. They are primarily ambush predators, however they will sometimes leave their resting spots in order to seek out prey in small holes or crevices.

Alan's picture
Unidentified Moray Eel (Muraenidae sp.)

A small Moray Eel (Muraenidae sp.) pops its head out of a burrow in the sand at Mae Haad/Koh Ma beach.