Moray Eel

Muraenidae
Image by Mstroeck.

Moray eel are huge cosmopolitan eels of the family muraenidae.

The typical length of a moray is 1.5 metres (5 foot). Their eyes are rather small; morays rely on their highly developed sense of smell, lying in wait to ambush prey. They possess large teeth designed to tear flesh as opposed to holding or chewing. Morays are carnivorous and feed primarily on other fish, cephalopods, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Groupers, other morays, and barracudas are among their few predators. morays hide in crevices in the reefs and wait until their prey is close enough for capture. They then lunge out and clamp the prey in their strong jaws.

The morays have sometimes been described as vicious or ill-tempered. But these eels will hide from humans and would rather flee than fight. In fact, morays are shy and secretive – they only attack humans in self-defense. Most attacks on humans involve accidental bites during human initiated interaction, likely caused by the fact that morays cannot see or hear very well, and rely mostly on their acute sense of smell. Morays, however, do inflict a nasty bite, because, although not poisonous, their backward-pointing teeth are covered with bacteria which may infect the wound.

Morays rest in crevices during the day and are nocturnal predators, and although they may ensnare small fish and crustaceans that pass near them during the day, they mostly come out at night.