DID YOU KNOW?

Moray eels have 4 different life phases. They morph from floating larvae called leptocephalus, to glass-eels which travel into brackish water, to elvers which move back to saltwater, before finaly becoming adults.

The green team

Eels are fish and have gills and a pair of fins, but unlike most fish they have no scales. Instead, they are covered in slime! Green moray eels get their name from the colour of the slime that covers their skin. The colour can vary depending on their location and in WA the slime looks more brown than green. The scientific name Gymnothorax is Greek and means ‘naked chest’, in reference to the eel’s lack of pectoral fins. The species name ‘funebris’ relates to ‘burial’ in Latin, which is how moray eels spend most of their day- buried within the reef!

Packed with teeth

Moray eels have inward pointing teeth that snatch prey, but don’t chew. They have another set of teeth in their throat which extend up and grab the still-live prey, making sure it can’t swim back out! You can get a good look at these teeth while a moray is breathing, as they constantly open and close their mouth to push water to the gills, just like a pump.

I spy with my nose, not my eye

Moray eels have a great sense of smell! However, they have poor eye sight which leads to some accidental bites! Divers who attempt to feed morays will often get bitten, not out of aggression, but because their fingers can’t be seen properly and smell just like the fish they were trying to feed! As they don’t need to rely on their sight, moral eels prefer to hunt at night, catching unsuspecting prey as it sleeps.

In, out and around

Moray eels move swiftly in and out of the crevices of a reef, their flattened body and slimy skin helping them slip through tiny holes. Their bodies allow them to swim backwards and they’re known to twist their bodies into knots to crush prey!

Where At AQWA

Search for the slippery body of an eel amoung the reefs in AQWA’s Perth Coast.