MORAY EELS - MURAENIDAE
Diverse group of eels with large mouths with numerous teeth; often with fanglike (canine) teeth. Recorded maximum length 3.0 m.
Some morays cause ciguatera fish poisoning. A skin toxin was noted in an Indo-Pacific moray eel.
Adults benthic, generally in shallow water among rocks and coral heads; many species are more active at night and hide in holes and crevices during the day. Vicious reputation is undeserved, although some species will bite if provoked. Widely used as food, but a few large species may be ciguatoxic.
Feed mainly on crustaceans, cephalopods and small fishes.
Larvae (leptocephali) epipelagic, widespread and abundant. Leptocephali showed curling behavior which make them resemble gelatinous zooplankton in observations made at Osprey Reef, Coral Sea. This behavior could be an evolved response to threats by potential predators according to the study.
Dorsal fin origin usually before the gill openings; median fins confluent with caudal fin; no pelvic and pectoral fins. Gill openings as small roundish lateral openings. Head with 1-3 lateral line pores; absent on body. Scaleless.
Latin, muraena = moray eel