Moray eel is the largest type of eel belonging to the family Muraenidae. A large number of these fish live in the Indo-Pacific region, but they are common around the world: from the coast of California to the currents of Cambodia - moray eels can be found almost everywhere. In fresh, marine and brackish waters, 200 species of moray eels are found. They prefer warmer water and are often found in shallow water and near coral reefs.
How do they look?
Moray eels have a long and slender body resembling a snake, but they do not belong to the group of reptiles, moray eels are real fish. This eel has a long dorsal fin that runs from head to tail. Most lack pectoral and pelvic fins.
Like all other fish, moray eels breathe with the help of gills. They are located behind the head, in the form of two round holes. The eel keeps its mouth open, not because it is ready to bite at any second, but to ensure a constant circulation of water in the gills.
Size depends on the type. Length ranges from 6 inches to 15 feet. The average weight is 30 pounds. Color varies from black to tan. The lower part is pale.
Diet, lifestyle and behavior
Moray eels have very poor eyesight, but good sense of smell, which helps to find prey. Sometimes they can bite the people who feed them, not from greed or aggression, but simply not considering where the food is and where the fingers are.
See also: Drop-fish and the hopeless futility of being
Typically, these marine inhabitants emit liquid transparent mucus, which forms a protective layer on the skin that attracts skin parasites. Shrimps swim towards moray eels, hoping to have lunch with them, and become eel prey themselves. What a life; trying to help a guy, and he just eats you! The mucus of some fish species contains toxins.
Moray eels are carnivorous and feed on fish, shellfish, crayfish, squid, octopus, shrimp, krill and other marine life. Some moray eels have flat, blunt teeth, which they use to open the hard shell of crustaceans, but this is rather the exception to the rule.
Moray eels spend most of their time in caves and crevices at the bottom of the sea, waiting for prey to appear, and hunt like an ambush predator that hides before attacking. They hunt almost exclusively at night. Since they do not rely on vision, the darkness does not bother them, on the contrary, it provides protection from predators, and also allows you to go unnoticed while in ambush.
Eel uses a special technique when hunting for prey. As soon as it smells something tasty, it inflicts a quick, decisive blow and grabs the victim using both sets of jaws, and then crushes it until it becomes flattened enough to be swallowed, or tears it to pieces and eats it.
See also: Infernal Vampire: inhabitant of the abyss and detritophagus with blue blood
Unlike other eels, these marine inhabitants have two sets of sharp teeth. The first set is in the jaw, and the other in the throat. The teeth located in the throat are used to grind food and facilitate digestion. They are directed backward, preventing the prey from slipping out.
Despite the fact that it is difficult to compare the intelligence of different species of fish, it is believed that moray eels are more intelligent than most of them. By hunting, they can collaborate with other predatory fish and study the habits of prey. According to environmentalists, such cooperation is the only example of a “coordinated hunt” between marine predators. Previously, such actions were observed only in mammals and birds.
Are they dangerous to people?
Moray eels are not peace-loving creatures, they are predators that aggressively respond even to potential threats. Deep-sea moray eels are not used to violators of their territory. In some cases, their dimensions can significantly exceed the size of a person. They can attack people just like other animals - suddenly, quickly, from an ambush, which you will not notice until it is too late.
True, there were no cases of moray eels killing people, but it can cause injuries, injure or bite off fingers.
Some moray eels can be surprisingly obedient, especially if they swim near popular beaches, they are used to divers and swimmers with underwater cameras. They will allow people to swim towards themselves and take pictures without any manifestation of aggression. But still, moray eels are wild predators and they are unpredictable.
See also: Appearance, body length, and killer whale habitat
Mating occurs when the temperature of the water and the amount of food reach the optimal level. Male and female weave bodies for about two hours. During this time, the female can release up to 10,000 eggs, which are fertilized with male sperm.
Hatching from eggs, tender jelly-like larvae swim for up to a year as part of plankton, and when they grow, they sink to the bottom of the sea, where adult fish begin life. Parents, after the birth of offspring, do not care about him. A large percentage of moray eels in the larval phase enter the stomach of large predators.
Life expectancy, enemies and threats
Depending on the species, moray eels live 10 - 30 years. In captivity, wild moray eels, if placed in an aquarium, can be picky and refuse to eat, which can affect their lifespan.
Moraines are little threatened. They are considered the predators of the peaks in their ecosystem and are quite capable of scaring away anyone who tries to harm them. However, there are other large marine predators that can hunt moray eels. These are barracuda, sea bass and sea snakes.
There is no threat of extinction of moray eels in the near future. It is a widespread species with a large amount of genetic diversity.