Moray Eels


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Moray eels are members of the Muraenidae family. They are found in warm and temperate waters all around the world. They have a snake-like body and large mouth with numerous teeth; often with fanglike (canine) teeth. They are distinguished from other eels by their elevated head profile, lack of pectoral fins, and high posterior nostril. Lateral-line pores are absent on body except for 1 or 2 above and before gill opening

Moray eels tend to remain in the crevices deep in the ocean rather than venturing into shore. Many species are more active at night and hide in holes and crevices during the day. They are carnivorous and feed primarily on smaller fish, octopuses, squid, cuttlefish, and crustaceans. When feeding, morays launch their second set of jaws in their throat called pharyngeal jaws, into the mouth, where they grasp prey and transport it into the throat. Moray eels are the only animals that use pharyngeal jaws to actively capture and restrain prey. If provoked or handled carelessly, their powerful jaws and strong teeth will cause deep lacerations.

There are 16 genera and about 200 species of Muraenidae worldwide. Malaysia has 4 genera and 18 species.


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Scientific Name: Gymnothorax thyrsoideus  (Richardson, 1845)
English Name: Greyface Moray, Freckled Moray, White-eye Moray
Local Malay Name: Malong, Belut Riben, Belut Laut, Belut-laut Kepala Kelabu
Main Diagnostic Features: Body with overlapping, small brown spots, not strongly contrasting with background. Eye white in life.
Size: Maximum total length 66 cm, commonly to 40 cm total length.