The moray eel is a species of fish belonging to the Muraenidae family. There are nearly 200 species of moray eels around the world. With its fine body reminding us of a snake and their sharp teeth, the moray eel is well known and an appreciated aquatic animal. Whether hiding inside a wreck or in the corals or sailing majestically through the waves, this animal remains fascinating for all divers despite its apparent aggressiveness. Here are eight things that are important to know about this amazing animal, the moray eel:
1. The moray eel has two sets of jaws
Unlike most fish, which use sucking to consume food, the moray eel uses its pair of pharyngeal jaws hidden inside the esophagus to push forward and seize its prey once it has been trapped by its oral jaw. His teeth are pointing backwards so prey cannot escape once captured.
2. Larger moray eels can weigh up to 30kg
The largest species of moray eel is called the giant moray eel. For the moment, the largest species of moray found are simply unbelievable with measurements of about 2 meters and 30 kg. Unconfirmed reports from divers indicate the existence of moray eels over 3 meters. These unusual species can be seen in the Red Sea, on the African coast and also in the Pacific towards Indonesia.
3. Most moray eels are nocturnal
If you really want to see moray eels, opt for a night dive. Indeed, this animal is much more active after sunset. However, the catenulate moray has an earlier life style.
4. The green moray eel is actually brown
The moray eel looks green from the layer of mucus it secretes to ward off predators. This layer then comes to cover its skin to give it this greenish color. This mucus, containing toxins that destroy red blood cells, also greatly changes the appearance of the fish.
5. There are more than 200 known species of moray eels
These species are divided into two categories: true moray eels and snake moray eels. The first category is by far and even by far the most common since there are 166 recognized species. The main difference between these two groups is anatomical. Indeed, the dorsal fin of a true moray begins just behind the gills while the appendage is limited to the tail area of the snake moray eels.
6. This disturbing posture is actually innocent
When it is resting, the moray opens and slowly closes its jaws. It may sound like a warning to other sea creatures and divers, but in reality, that is not the case at all. Moray eels have different respiratory systems from other fish. To breathe, the moray eels are forced to adopt this posture to allow the water to cross the oral cavity and the gills and thus obtain oxygen.
7. The moray eel sometimes hunts in a group
The moray eel is a carnivorous fish. Its diet consists mainly of small fish, octopus and crabs. Nevertheless, research has shown that the moray eel can also hunt in groups with other species such as grouper or trout.
8. Moray is not aggressive
Contrary to what is said about its aggressive nature. Admittedly, its bites can physically hurt the divers but the moray eel is very territorial, and it attacks only when it feels threatened. It may be more aggressive when it is in its breeding season.