Eels have a dorsal fin which almost runs their entire body length, from the head to the caudal and anal fins. They have a snake like appearance due to the absence of pectoral and pelvic fins. The Honeycomb moray eel is easily identified by its beautiful black and white honeycomb pattern. Juveniles have a yellow tinge to their heads that fades with age and larger black markings that get smaller as the eel grows.
The head of the moray eel is large with small eyes located quite far forward, and a wide mouth with large teeth for tearing flesh rather than grinding or holding in place. They have a secondary set or toothed jaws in their throat called pharyngeal jaws, which are thrust forward to grab and drag prey down through their digestive system. They are the only known creature to use pharyngeal jaws to grab and hold prey.
Distribution and Habitat
They are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters, particularly in relatively shallow water among reefs and rocks, as well as in estuarine areas.
Moray eels are carnivores and their diet consists mainly of other fish or cephalopods,as well as molluscs and crustaceans. They hunt mostly at night and primarily make use of their excellent sense of smell to locate injured or dead prey. They also hide in crevices waiting for prey passing by and then they launch themselves from the burrow and clasp the prey with their powerful jaws.
Courtship among compatible morays begins when water temperatures reach its highest, and they begin sexual posturing through widely gaping their jaws. Then the morays will wrap each others’ long slender bodies together, either as a couple or 2 males and a female. They simultaneously release sperm and eggs in the act of fertilisation.
On hatching, the eggs take the form of leptocephalus larvae, a thin leaf-shaped objects, that float in the open ocean for around 8 months. They then swim down as elvers to begin life on the reef. Honeycomb moray eel can live up to 30 years.
Honeycomb moray eels have very few predators and is the reason why they live in burrows or crevices in the reef from which swift flight maybe difficult. Their main predators are large groupers, barracudas and humans.
There are more than 100 species of moray eel, including the giant moray eel (Gymnothorax javanicus), zebra morays (Gymnomuraena zebra), snowflake morays (Echidna nebulosa), and white eyed moray (Siderea thyrsoidea), Fimbriated moray (Gymnothorax fimbriatus) and the Ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita).