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Moray Eels

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.

Scientific Name: Gymnothorax javanicus  (Bleeker, 1859)
English Name: Giant Moray, Blackpearl Moray
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 爪哇裸胸鳝 (Zhǎowā luǒ xiōng shàn), 巨海鳗 (Jù hǎi mán), 薯鳗 (Shǔ mán), 虎鳗 (Hǔ mán), 钱鳗 (Qián mán)
Local Malay Name: Malong, Belut-laut Gergasi, Remang Panjang (Indonesia)
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาไหลมอเรย์ยักษ์ (Plā lai mo ray yạk), ปลาหลดหินยักษ์ (Plā lud h̄in yạk)
Main Identification Features: Large conspicuous black blotch at gill opening. Head and body with dark spots on a pale background. Juveniles body with distinct and separated spots. Adults body spots become leopard-like; large, diffuse and mottled. Few spots on throat and belly.
Size: Maximum total length to 300 cm.
Habitat and Ecology: Coral reefs to 50 m depth. One of the top predators at the reefs. Feeds primarily on fishes and occasionally on crustaceans.

Scientific Name: Gymnothorax thyrsoideus  (Richardson, 1845)
English Name: Greyface Moray, Freckled Moray, White-eye Moray
Mandarin Name | 鱼类中文名: 密花裸胸鳝 (Mì huā luǒ xiōng shàn), 密点星鯙 (Mì diǎn xīng chún) 海鳗 (Hǎi mán)
Local Malay Name: Malong, Belut Riben, Belut Laut, Belut-laut Kepala Kelabu
Thai Name | ชื่อสามัญภาษาไทย: ปลาไหลมอเรย์ตาขาว (Plā lai mo ray tāk̄hāw), ปลาหลดหินตาขาว (Plā lud h̄in tāk̄hāw)
Main Identification 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.
Habitat and Ecology: Shallow coral reefs area, to 30 m depth. Found singly, in pairs or small groups. Feeds on crustaceans, small fishes and octopuses.