You can find moray eels in most saltwater marine environments. Even so, they also inhabit many freshwater systems and some brackish waters.
In general, you can consider morays as being the largest of all eel species – the most common being the ‘cosmopolitan eel’.
The moray eel classification is not listed as an endangered species. Even so, fishing for them ‘commercially’ does not take place in many countries.
Moray Eel Habitat
Morays tend to thrive better in shallow, warm water habitats. They live near the seabed of coral reef formations or spend their time hidden in rock crevices and small caves.
Muraenidae are carnivores. The giant moray is the biggest eel of the species. It will feed on almost all mollusks, squid, crabs, octopus, and cuttlefish. They also eat small tropical fishes, such as the damselfish species.
Moray eels often kill their prey either by wrapping their body around the victim. They will squeeze it until it gets crushed flat enough to swallow.
If not, they will tear their prey into small, bite-size pieces using two sets of razor sharp teeth. The back row of extra teeth help to break up the food ready for digestion.
One of the most curious of all moray eel facts is that it has two circular breathing gills located behind its head. They jabber their huge jaws constantly to circulate water from their mouth towards their gills.
The saltwater eel species can be quite aggressive. But, based on personal experiences, they rarely attack people scuba diving near their territory.
Note: I have yet to see a giant moray eel attack anyone snorkeling at the surface.
Interesting Facts about Moray Eels
- Top moray eel facts – the biggest moray eel species can grow to five (5) metres long and weigh up to 14 kilos.
- There are more than two hundred (200) moray eel species (Muraenidae). On average, the lifespan of moray eel is twenty (20) years.
- They look much like a snake in appearance. But, in fact moray eels are fishes.
- Their teeth point backwards to help prevent its prey from escaping their clutches.
- Some moray eel species produce a slippery mucus which contains toxins.
- Morays are voracious predators themselves. But, they are also hunted and eaten by barracuda fish and large sharks.
- Female morays release around 10,000 eggs after mating. The eggs first hatch as tiny larvae drifting in plankton streams.
- The pictures of moray eels show their large eyes. Even so, morays do not see well. It is their good sense of smell that helps them to find prey.
Moray Eels Pictures
The images show giant moray eels guarding their rock crevice habitat and a fimbriated moray eel hiding under a rock ledge.
Note: You may not find all these saltwater eels in all of the top snorkeling destinations. But, the fish species section has further information about the marine life found around tropical coral islands.