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
White-Eyed Moray Eel (Siderea Thyrsoidea)

The White-Eyed Moray Eel (Siderea Thyrsoidea) is reasonably common at all local dive sites, particularly Sail Rock where this individual was photographed.

Alan's picture
Undulated Moray (Gymnothorax Undulatus)?

This photo of what i've tentatively accepted as an Undulated Moray (Gymnothorax Undulatus) was taken at the East Pinnacle, Sail Rock.

As suggested in my species description, it is difficult to see if it has the characteristic markings that distinguish this species.

Whatever it is, it certainly knows how to strike a pose...

Alan's picture
Palechin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax Herrei)

This pair of Palechin Moray Eels (Gymnothorax Herrei) could be found together, inhabiting the same crevice at Sail Rock for a number of weeks.

Alan's picture
Palechin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax Herrei)

In this shot taken at Sail Rock, Koh Phangan, a little Palechin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax Herrei) is being moved along by a group Regal Demoiselles (Neopomacentrus Cyanomos).

Alan's picture
Palechin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax Herrei)

This photo of a Palechin Moray Eel (Gymnothorax Herrei) with a pair of Regal Demoiselles (Neopomacentrus Cyanomos) gives an excellent impression of just how small this species is in comparison to its locally occurring relatives.

Alan's picture
Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus)

This photo clearly shows the dark ring around the gill opening, one of the distinguishing features of the Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus).

Alan's picture
Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus)

A close-up of the unusual skin-like covering on the teeth of a Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus) at Sail Rock, Koh Phangan.

Alan's picture
Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus)

In this photo of one of resident Giant Moray's (Gymnothorax Javanicus) at Sail Rock, the unusual sheath-like covering can be seen quite clearly on the tee

Alan's picture
Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus)

In this photo, the familiar leopard-like markings of the adult Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Javanicus) are clearly visible.

Alan's picture
White-Eyed Moray Eel (Siderea Thyrsoidea)

This close-up of a White-Eyed Moray Eel (Siderea Thyrsoidea) clearly shows the sensory pits along the upper and lower jawline and snout.